God, Faith, and Tortillas: Castaway Sustained by Food Dreams

Fisherman dreamed of tortillas to stay alive
Wikimedia Commons

Jose Salvador Alvarenga,a fisherman said to have been stranded for 13 months in the Pacific, thought of his faith, family, and favorite foods to stay alive.

Fisherman Jose Salvador Alvarenga (also styled 'Albarengo'), who was rescued after reportedly spending 13 months adrift in the Pacific Ocean, told AFP through a Spanish interpreter that, if not for the slim chance that he might eat tortillas and his other favorite foods again someday, he might have killed himself. While in recovery at Majuro Hospital in the Marshall Islands, Alvarenga said that after his teenage companion died of starvation, he was forced to push his body overboard. Although the fisherman thought of ending his own life, he would think of God and dream of eating his favorite foods. "But then I woke up and all I see is the sun, sky and the sea," he said. "My dream for over a year was to eat a tortilla, chicken, and so many other types of food.”

Alvarenga told officials that he set out in December 2012 on a shark fishing expedition with a teenager. The pair got lost, and the young boy, aged 15-18, was unable to survive on their diet of raw bird flesh, turtle blood, and his own urine, and died a month later, according to Reuters.

Although the fisherman tried to keep track of time, he said that eventually time blurred together. When he was rescued at Ebon Atoll in the Marshall Islands, approximately 6,200 miles from Mexico, the fisherman, 37, was found to be in remarkably good shape. A police patrol boat brought Alvarenga to the Marshall Islands capital of Majuro. "Thank God he is alive. We are overjoyed ... I just want him here with us," his mother, Maria Julia Alvarenga, told CNN in his homeland of El Salvador.

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Since news of Alvarenga's rescue broke, a few sources have cast upon his claims. Gee Bing, the acting secretary of foreign affairs for the Marshall Islands noted that the fisherman was in much better physical condition than past survivors, according to CBS News. Details of Alvarenga's exact location of departure and his official date of departure are also hazy, noted CNN. Officials are still working to verify the details of the story, though Tom Armbruster, U.S. ambassador to the Marshall Islands, has said, "He's in much better shape than one would expect after such an ordeal." Alvarenga told CNN, "There's more to tell, but I don't want to talk anymore.My head hurts. Another day, when I feel better."