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Marshall Islands Castaway

Castaway Arrives Home, Tells Doctors, ‘Let Me Rest’

Image: Salvadorean castaway Jose Salvador Alvarenga

Castaway Jose Salvador Alvarenga speaks to journalists in an ambulance on his way to San Rafael hospital in Santa Tecla, El Salvador. MARVIN RECINOS / AFP - Getty Images

SAN SALVADOR — After more than a year lost at sea and a series of exhausting flights home, castaway Jose Salvador Alvarenga is ready for a little R&R.

"Let me rest," the weary shark fisherman told doctors at a hospital in El Salvador, officials said on Wednesday morning.

Hours later, they released video of Alvarenga, 37, in a hospital bed pleading for privacy.

"I want to be alone with my family," he said. "Give me time, so that I can talk after I’ve recovered. I’m not in a position right now to be giving explanations."

Dr. Maria Isabel Rodriguez, the El Salvador minster of health, said that while Alvarenga's physical condition is "incredible," his psychological state is more precarious.

"He's not ready for full interaction with the world," she told reporters.

"He told us that he had practically lost hope of returning to this world," she added.

One of his doctors, Dr. Manuel Bello, told NBC News that while he has never seen a case like this in his career, he has found nothing to contradict Alvarenga's story.

He expects him to remain in the hospital for at least 48 hours, and he is scheduled to undergo a psychological evaluation.

Alvarenga arrived in San Salvador late Tuesday after a two-day journey from the Marshall Islands, via Hawaii and Los Angeles.

He had a tearful reunion with family, who told NBC partner Telemundo that they were given only a few minutes to greet the seafaring survivalist, one by one, at the San Rafael hospital.

The seafaring survivalist cried, they said.

"Don't worry, we'll take you home soon," his mother, Julia Alvarenga, said she told him.

Her son, who says he lived on raw fish, sea creatures and his own urine as he drifted on the Pacific for 14 months, has complained of being hungry.

After being taken from the airport to the hospital, he had a dinner of sweetbread and tortillas with cheese.

Pilot: Homebound Castaway Talked of Going to Hospital 0:32

Alvarenga left his rural hometown of Garita Palmero about 15 years ago to work in Mexico.

He vanished on a fishing trip with a friend in November 2012 and turned up on the remote Marshall Islands late last month. He said the other man starved to death and he threw him overboard.

Alvarenga told doctors that he considered killing himself with a small knife during his endless ordeal and that he tried and failed several times to flag down other vessels he spotted in the distance.

When he arrived on Ebon Atoll in a battered boat — wearing a shaggy beard and tattered underwear — he seemed strikingly healthy for a man who had been exposed to the elements for so long.

Castaway: Leave Me Alone 0:47

However, he has appeared much weaker and more withdrawn in several public appearances since then, and especially upon his arrival in El Salvador, which he had not visited in eight years.

On his journey back across the Pacific — this time by plane — he carried with him mementos from the archipelago where he washed up, including necklaces made from shells and a straw bag.

"I'm so grateful for the people who made this possible," his mother said of the islanders who welcomed him after his 24-foot boat drifted onto an atoll.

NBC News' Tracy Connor and Daniella Silva and Telemundo's Angie Sandoval contributed to this report.

Castaway returns home to El Salvador 0:25