— SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — Jose Salvador Alvarenga has surprised doctors with his good physical condition, though they caution that the famed castaway is psychologically fragile as he recovers from what he has described as more than a year adrift at sea surviving on raw fish, turtles and bird blood.
All of the doctors who examined Alvarenga after he returned to his native El Salvador said he appears shaken and has asked to be given as much privacy as possible amid an international media furor over his apparent ordeal.
"I want to be alone with my family. They should give me time to talk after I have recovered, because right now I'm in no shape to explain anything," Alvarenga said from his hospital bed in a video shown to the press on Wednesday by the ministry of public health. "That's what I'm asking them, that they leave me in peace, so I can recover, that they don't bother my family, so I can be well. Nothing more than that."
Alvarenga underwent a battery of tests after being hospitalized upon his return home from the Marshall Islands, where he showed up after what he has described as 6,500-mile (10,500-kilometer) journey from Mexico across the Pacific that began when his small fishing boat was thrown off course by bad weather.
He told doctors that several large ships came near his small fishing boat but none tried to rescue him, even though sailors on at least one even waved at him.
"They passed close by, he asked them for help and they didn't want to provide it," said El Salvador's minister of public health, Maria Isabel Rodriguez. "There was one that almost destroyed his little boat because it came so close, but nobody helped him."