The story of Jose Ivan Alvarengo resembles the film "Castaway," where a man is secluded in the ruins of the ocean without any help or hope. After claiming to be lost for 13-months in the Pacific Ocean, Alvarengo found his way to the coast of the Marshall Islands safely. Though Alvarengo's story seems to be an inspirational one of survival, many have questioned whether the story is even true.
The story of Jose Ivan Alvarengo resembles the film "Castaway," where a man is secluded in the ruins of the ocean without any help or hope. After claiming to be lost for 13-months in the Pacific Ocean, Alvarengo found his way to the coast of the Marshall Islands safely.
Alvarengo, seen long-haired and scruffy as he waved to the cameras, was taken to Majuro Hospital for medical attention. The incident that lead Alvarengo in seclusion occurred on December 21, 2012, when he was aboard on a fishing expedition in Tapachula, near the coast of West Mexico. Strong winds pushed Alvarengo's boat beyond the coast to the Pacific Ocean where he remained stranded.
When found near the Marshall Islands on a damaged boat, Alvarengo told reports that for more than a year he was "living off fish and turtles he had caught and relying on rainwater, and sometimes [drank] his own urine," according to CNN.
The 37-year-old castaway claims that another companion named Xiquel accompanied him for what was supposed to be a one-day fishing trip. Alvarengo claims that Xiquel did not survive after four weeks, leaving him depressed. "For four days, I wanted to kill myself. But I couldn't feel the desire," Alvarengo told the Telegraph. "I didn't want to feel the pain. I couldn't do it."
Though Alvarengo's story seems to be an inspirational one of survival, many have questioned whether the story is even true. The Mexican government confirmed Alvarengo's identity as well as his residency in Tonala, Jalisco in Mexico, but authorities are trying to map the pieces together.
The acting secretary of foreign affairs for the Marshall Islands, Gee Bing, is one of the many individuals questioning the validity of the story. "It does sound like an incredible story and I'm not sure if I believe his story," said Bing. "When we saw him, he was not really thin compared to other survivors in the past. I may have some doubts."
CNN's Rafael Romo reported that "he looks in remarkable good condition" and that the distance between the Mexican coast and the Marshall Islands totaled up to "over 8,000 kilometers of open ocean." Though his identity is confirmed, many officials are "suspicious" about Alvarengo's story because his "stocky" figure does not fit for someone lost at sea for over a year without food or clean water.
Tom Armbruster, U.S. Ambassador to the Marshall Islands noted that Alvarengo complained about mild joint pain, but looks better than expected. "He looks very good, he's sharp," said Armbruster. "I think he's in much better shape than one would expect after such an ordeal."
Despite suspicions due to Alvarengo's physical conditions, investigators are still looking into the story and not ruling anything out yet. There have been miraculous cases where drastic survival took place. Notably, the 2006 case of the three Mexican fishermen (Jesus Vidana, Salvador Ordonez, and Lucio Rendon) who survived nine months at sea proved to be true. Similar to Alvarengo, the three fisherman survived in the Pacific Ocean after a ill fishing trip due to storms.
While survival stories have occurred in the past, officials will continue to investigate more of Alvarengo and his 13-month disappearance until all questions are answered and suspicions are cleared.