Salvadoran castaway adrift for a year visits dead shipmate's mother

I don't blame you for loss of my son, woman tells fisherman who spent a year adrift

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 March, 2014, 5:31am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 March, 2014, 5:31am


A Salvadoran fisherman who says he drifted at sea for more than a year met the mother of his companion who died during the ordeal, an emotional gathering that he said helped him fulfil a promise he made to his friend.

Jose Salvador Alvarenga embraced his friend Ezequiel Cordoba's mother and both cried as journalists recorded the moment.

"I would've liked to have welcomed my son like this," said Roselia Diaz Cueto.

"It fills me with happiness to be with my friend's mother," Alvarenga told her.

Alvarenga said he and Cordoba, who died about a month after they first became lost at sea, promised each other that whoever survived would visit the other's family and tell them what happened.

The 37-year-old fisherman's boat washed up in the Marshall Islands in February. He returned on Friday to Mexico, the country where the journey began in December 2012.

Some have expressed disbelief at his tale of survival, which included eating turtles, fish and birds, and drifting more than 10,500 kilometres into the sea.

After meeting the young fisherman's mother, Alvarenga said he planned to travel to Costa Azul, the place where the pair had set out.

Diaz said Ezequiel was the second son she had lost to the sea. The family lives in the small village of El Fortin, where about 500 people fish for a living and where Cordoba became a fisherman when he was eight years old.

She said she did not blame Alvarenga for her son's death, but added that she wanted to hear firsthand about what her son went through. She also said she hoped talking to Alvarenga would help her to find peace and added that she wanted Alvarenga's help in getting a death certificate for her son.

"It gives me a lot of tranquility, because that's what I have been wanting," Diaz said about the meeting. "I want to be clear on what happened from beginning to end."

Before the two went into a private meeting in Diaz's home, Alvarenga warned her that it would not be easy to hear what happened to her son.

Alvarenga said he did not want to tell journalists what he would share with Cordoba's mother but said the two men had suffered from hunger and that he often cried and prayed for a miracle. He said he wanted to save the details of his incredible voyage for an upcoming book.