World / Latin America

Shipwreck survivor meets dead mate's kin

By Agence France-Presse in El Fortin, Mexico (China Daily) Updated: 2014-03-17 07:56

Shipwreck survivor meets dead mate's kin

Salvadoran castaway Jose Salvador Alvarenga greets Roselia Rios Cueto, mother of dead castaway Ezequiel Cordova, upon his arrival in El Fortin, Chiapas state, Mexico, on Saturday. Elizabeth Ruiz / Agence France-Presse

The Salvadoran castaway who said he survived more than a year at sea had a tearful meeting on Saturday with the family of his shipmate who did not make it home.

Jose Salvador Alvarenga traveled from his homeland to neighboring Mexico to speak with the parents and siblings of the late Ezequiel Cordova, 24.

They welcomed the visitor with tearful hugs. And they all met for three hours privately.

"This gives me some peace, because in my dreams, he asked me to speak with his mother," said Alvarenga, 37, choking back tears.

Alvarenga said the man he hired as a helper died four months after their fishing boat broke down and was cut adrift because he could not stomach a diet of urine, turtle blood, and raw fish and bird flesh.

Alvarenga washed ashore in the Marshall Islands on Jan 30, telling reporters he survived the 12,500-kilometer voyage in a 7-meter fiberglass boat after leaving Mexico's Pacific coast - in Chiapas state - 13 months earlier.

"He gave me strength," Alvarenga recalled of his shipmate.

Alvarenga said that he and Cordova made a pact that if one of them survived, they would visit the other one's family to tell the astonishing tale.

"I feel better now. I am more at peace because now I know what happened," said Cordova's grieving mother, Roselia Rios Cueto. "Now I know what my son's last words were. That fills me with peace."

Cordova's family had said it did not blame Alvarenga, who has risen to worldwide fame because of his story of survival, but wanted to know what happened.

Alvarenga's attorney, Benedicto Pereira, said his client told Cordova's mother he could not throw her son's body overboard for three days, hoping against hope Cordova might still awaken.

After the emotional meeting, Alvarenga headed to the Chiapas state town of Chocohuital, where he lived for several years and has many fishermen friends with whom he plans to share memories of his odyssey.


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