Alvarenga leaves Marshalls and begins his journey home
Jose Salvador Alvarenga departs Marshall Islands for El Salvador saying he will stay away from boats.
A castaway from El Salvador who claims he spent more than a year adrift in the Pacific has begun his journey home.
Jose Salvador Alvarenga thanked the president of the Marshall Islands, where he was found late last month, before boarding a flight to Hawaii.
Our Marshall Islands correspondent, Giff Johnson told Moera Tuilaepa-Taylor when Mr Alvarenga first arrived on Ebon island last month, people were surprised and shocked.
GIFF JOHNSON: Especially the couple who discovered him on their island and took care of him initially got him over to the main island, and they radioed into Majuro and that set forward all the events that have transpired since with all this media coverage and everything. But I think we see a lot of drifters coming through here, not so many from Mexico, although we have had other Mexicans but we have a lot from Kiribati and elsewhere. So it isn't an outrageous thing for something to float in but people were pretty surprised and then again with the story of him having been out since 2012, that's a remarkable thing.
MOERA TUILAEPA-TAYLOR: The media attention must of been overwhelming in the country.
GJ: It has been intense and this is very similar to what happened in 2006 when three Mexican fishermen were rescued by a Marshall Islands fishing boat in the central Pacific and brought into Majuro and it was a media frenzy, not only here in Majuro but on the way home when they got back to Mexico. So I would expect that Alvarenga will see a huge amount of media attention when he gets home, even though apparently he doesn't want it but I think he is going to get it never the less.
MTT: I know that there was a press conference recently, I know he turned up, did you gauge what kind of person he seemed to be during this press conference?
GJ: He only talked for about 30 seconds and just gave a thank you and it was pretty clear he was pretty distressed at the time. One doctor here suggested that he is probably suffering from post traumatic shock syndrome and you certainly could understand it, if he was on the water for 13 months, so he was having some ups and downs but overall by Monday this week he was cleared for travel so he could head back home.
MTT: What was the public reaction like towards him?
GJ: Many Marshallese helped out with Alvarenga, they bought him food, drinks, clothing, just really poured out help for him, not just at Ebon when he initially arrived but in Majuro there was just a lot of that kind of hospitality and it's something that the Marshall Islands is known for. The Marshall Islands really takes care of visitors and Alvarenga was no different in that category.
MTT: I know he was very grateful to the Marshall Islands, did he mention anything about ever coming back to visit?
GJ: I think he liked to stay away from boats. When somebody asked him what his thought was for the next step and he was pretty vehement that he wasn't planning to go fishing.
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