This Guy Survived being Stranded in the Ocean for More than a Year

Have you heard the story of the fisherman from El Salvador who was stranded at sea for more than a year? Oh, it’s true.

Credit: CNNMexico / YouTube

In November of 2012, José Salvador Alvarenga decided to go on a fishing trip. When his original traveling partner couldn’t make it, he brought along Ezequiel Cordoba. 

Credit: CNNMexico / YouTube

Originally from Garita Palmera, a coastal town in El Salvador, the 36-year-old Alvarenga had been living in Chiapas, Mexico for some 15 years. His mother said that he moved to Mexico to pursue shark fishing, and that his family had lost contact with him about eight years prior, when he stopped making visits.

During their fishing trip, Alvarenga and Cordoba drifted from the coast of Mexico some 6,000 miles east of the Marshall Islands. It was a trip that ended up lasting about 13 months.

Credit: Univision Noticias / YouTube

During a raging storm around December 24th, the two got lost. Days became weeks and the pair went through their emergency food.

According to Alvarenga, after four months of drifting on the high seas, Cordoba passed away. Alvarenga said Cordoba didn’t survive because the 22-year-old couldn’t stomach eating raw animals.

Credit: Univision Noticias / YouTube

Alvarenga says he blamed himself for Cordoba’s death. Alvarenga survived on fish, birds, turtle blood, his own urine, and rainwater.

READ: A Ghost Town in Argentina has Resurfaced after a 30-Year Flood

Alvarenga also said being alone at sea made it difficult to keep hope alive.

“I thought I was going to end up going crazy,” he told Agence France-Presse. “I didn’t think about dying, I thought I was going to get out of there, strong. But there were two occasions when I wanted to die, grabbing a knife when there wasn’t any water or food.”

Inflamed, dehydrated, and only wearing tattered underwear, he eventually stumbled onto the shores of Ebon, a small chunk of land belonging to the Marshall Islands. Here are the Marshall Islands:

Credit: Google

That’s a long way from Mexico.

Alvarenga was lucky. Although he landed in one of the most remote places on earth, someone spotted him right away.

Credit: Primer Impacto / YouTube

A married couple who live on the island, Emi Libokmeto and Russel Laikidrik, took Alvarenga into their home. Libokmeto told The Guardian: “As I’m looking across, I see this white man there. He is yelling. He looks weak and hungry. My first thought was, this person swam here, he must have fallen off a ship.”

Suffering from anemia and infected by parasites, Alvarenga just wanted to go home. But many were skeptical about his story.

Credit: Univision Noticias / YouTube 

Alvarenga’s story appeared to check out. He didn’t feel he needed to prove anything, and his mind was already onto other things: “I first thought of eating, I thought about tortilla, egg, chicken, I was imagining food,” he told La Jornada. He also said he was anxious to see his 14 year-old daughter, Fátima. When he finally returned home, Alvarenga’s daughter made a wreath out of palm leaves to welcome him.

An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea, an in-depth account of Alvarenga’s journey by journalist Jonathan Franklin was published last year.

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Katherine Díaz, Salvadorian Surfing Star and Olympic Hopeful, Died After Being Struck By Lightening

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Katherine Díaz, Salvadorian Surfing Star and Olympic Hopeful, Died After Being Struck By Lightening

Photo via isasurfing/Instagram

A tragedy born from a freak accident is rocking El Salvador’s athletic community today. On Friday, El Salvador surfing star and Olympic hopeful, Katherine Diaz, died after being struck by lightening. She was training for an Olympic qualifier.

According to reports, lightning struck and killed 22-year-old Katherine Díaz right after she entered the water at El Tunco beach.

“Katherine came over to hug her [friend], as soon as she finished hugging her, the noise was heard,” her uncle Beto Dia “She, the friend, was thrown by the force of the lightning strike too, the board threw me back. Katherine died instantly.”

According to NBC News, onlookers pulled Katherine Diaz to the shore and attempted to revive her, but by that time, it was too late.

Her family, of course, is mourning the loss of their loved one. “We were very close,” her sister, Erika Diaz said to a local publication. “Katherine was a girl full of energy, with a free spirit who made everyday feel worthwhile. Unfortunately, she left us.” But Erika said she is glad that her sister passed while doing what she loved the most–surfing.

Katherine Díaz had dedicated her life to the complicated and rewarding sport of surfing.

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A post shared by KATHERINE DIAZ (@katherinecook7)

Katherine Díaz Hernández had been surfing since she was 9-years-old. The 22-year-old was training to qualify for the 2021 Summer Olympics–the first time surfing would ever appear at the international games.

El Salvador’s surfing federation, FESASURF, released a statement lauding Díaz for her talent. “Katherine was a girl very passionate about sports, she was very motivated and happy for the event that was approaching.”

The International Surfing Association posted a tribute to Diaz on their Instagram page.

“Katherine embodied the joy and energy that make surfing so special and dear to us all, as a global ambassador of the sport,” they wrote. “She excelled at the international competition level, representing her country with pride at both the ISA World Surfing Games and ISA World Junior Surfing Championship.”

“We send our heartfelt condolences to Katherine’s family, the surfers of El Salvador, and to all those in the international surfing community whose lives she touched. We will never forget you.”

El Salvador’s surfing community has planned a “paddle-out” ceremony that is traditional in the death of a surfer.

According to Surfer Today, a paddle-out ceremony is “an ocean-based ceremony consisting of a mix of spiritual, metaphysical, and ritual actions that acknowledge, remember, and celebrate a fallen peer.”

“It’s a symbolic rite of passage that showcases traces of connection and separation, departure, and continuity.”

Katherine Díaz’s funeral services were on Saturday morning. The paddle-out ceremony will be held on Tuesday.

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El Salvador’s ‘Total Abortion Ban’ Is Landing Women Who Have Accidentally Miscarried in Jail


El Salvador’s ‘Total Abortion Ban’ Is Landing Women Who Have Accidentally Miscarried in Jail

Photo via Getty Images

The right for a woman to decide what to do with her body is a controversial subject in much of Latin America. Some countries, like Argentina, are slowly becoming less conservative in their approach to reproductive rights. Other countries–like El Salvador–have stayed the same.

El Salvador is a country that has some of the most prohibitive anti-abortion laws in the world.

Along with Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic, El Salvador is one of the Latin American countries that does not permit abortion under any circumstances. El Salvador has a “total abortion ban” policy.

Next week, El Salvador’s total abortion ban will be analyzed by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

Since 1998, 140 women have gone to jail for illegally terminating their pregnancies in El Salvador. Many of these women say that they are innocent of the charges.

One of the most famous of such cases is the case of a woman that simply goes by “Manuela”.

In 2008, Manuela went to jail for illegally terminating her pregnancy. When Manuela was seven months pregnant, she went to the hospital because she was suffering from a miscarriage.

When the 33-year-old mother of two was receiving medical care, she was accused of having an abortion. She was convicted of aggravated homicide and sentenced to 30 years in prison. After 2 years, Manuela died behind bars. She had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma–a disease that had caused her to miscarry her pregnancy.

“Manuela was the victim of a State that does not protect the life and health of women, that discriminates and criminalizes them for having natural complications of pregnancy and does not provide guarantees to protect the confidentiality between medical staff and patients,” said Catalina Martínez Coral, the regional Latin American director at the Center for Reproductive Rights, in a statement.

Next week, a woman named Sara will appear in court for allegedly terminating her pregnancy in 2012.

But Sara’s lawyers said she did not intentionally end her pregnancy. They say she accidentally miscarried after she slipped and fell doing dishes. At the hospital, Police detained Sara. Sara is now in prison with a 30 year sentence.

“Sara’s hearing offers a new opportunity to do right by her and the hundreds of women who have been forced to mourn the loss of their pregnancy from a prison cell,” writes SKDK communications director Tania Mercado.

Like Mercado, Catalina Martínez Coral believes these upcoming trials are a chance for El Salvador to change its draconian abortion laws.

“We want El Salvador to assume the international responsibility it has evaded for years despite the repeated calls from multiple human rights organizations to review the legislation that causes this unjust criminalization of women,” she said.

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