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Castaway Goes to Mexico to Deliver Dead Friend's Last Words

Image: Jose Salvador Alvarenga
Sea survivor Jose Salvador Alvarenga, center, is flanked by his father Jose Ricardo and mother Maria Julia, before entering the waiting hall for national departures, after arriving at the airport in Mexico City, Friday, March 14. The Salvadoran fisherman, who was lost at sea for 13 months, traveled from El Salvador to Mexico to fulfill a promise he made to his dead sea mate, Mexican Ezequiel Cordoba. Alvarenga said Cordoba died a month into their ordeal because he couldn't stomach the diet of raw fish, turtles and birds. Marco Ugarte / AP

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A shark fisherman who said he endured a year lost at sea in a seemingly incredible tale of survival arrived Friday in Mexico to meet the parents of his friend who died early in the ordeal.

Jose Salvador Alvarenga, a native of El Salvador, said he was honoring a promise he made to his buddy, Ezequiel Cordoba, that he would share the man’s last words with his family, The Associated Press reported.

Alvarenga, 37, saved those thoughts for Cordoba’s family but told reporters: "I don't feel capable yet of telling what I remember."

"When I talk about that day, I feel like I am back there in the moment when I was suffering and hurting,” he said. “... what I am trying to do is to forget that."

Image: Jose Salvador Alvarenga
Pacific castaway Jose Salvador Alvarenga, center, accompanied by his parents, Jose Ricardo Orellana, left, and Maria Julia Alvarenga, right, arrives at Tapachula airport in Chiapas state, Mexico, on Friday.ELIZABETH RUIZ / AFP - Getty Images

Alvarenga washed up on a remote Pacific atoll in a battered 24-foot fishing boat on Jan. 30. He claims that after being swept out to sea by a storm, he survived month after month on raw fish and other sea creatures, quenching his thirst with rainwater and his own urine. He said Cordoba died of starvation.

Officials have said he was dehydrated from his oceanic odyssey, but he has also complained of swollen joints, aches and pains, and mental confusion. He was walking better on Friday, the AP reported.

A book and movie about Alvarenga’s voyage may be in the works. His lawyer, Benedicto Perlea, said they were speaking with publishers and producers.

— Miranda Leitsinger

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