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September 25, 2017

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El Salvador castaway released from hospital,ready to return home

SAN SALVADOR--The Salvadoran fisherman who says he survived 13 months adrift in the Pacific was released from hospital on Tuesday after a weeklong stay.

Jose Salvador Alvarenga said he will now travel to his native village, but it is not clear if he plans to stay there or just visit.

"I am going to try to overcome everything that has happened to me, but I am OK. I am happy and I give thanks to God," Alvarenga told a news conference at a hotel in the capital San Salvador.

Earlier in the day he had said he did not want to return to his coastal village of Garita Palmera.

But at the press conference, in which he spoke little, he said he now plans to return on Wednesday. He was accompanied by his parents and an attorney.

"We are going to take him to Garita Palmera. He will decide if he wants to stay there for a few days or it will be a short visit of just a few hours" to see his 14-year-old daughter Fatima, said the attorney, Benedicto Perlera.

At an earlier encounter with journalists pressing him to tell his story, Alvarenga, 37, said "I don't remember."

Doctors who have performed physical and psychological tests on Alvarenga say he has developed a phobia of the sea. His home village is on the Pacific coast 118 kilometers (74 miles) west of the capital.

Wearing a blue long-sleeve shirt and khaki pants, Alvarenga earlier waved at onlookers and hugged his mother and father outside the emergency room exit of the San Rafael National Hospital.

The fisherman returned to his homeland last week following an odyssey that had taken him from Mexico, where he had been living, to the Marshall Islands.

Alvarenga washed ashore in the Marshalls on Jan. 30, telling reporters he had survived a 12,500-kilometer (8,000-mile) voyage in a 7-meter (24-foot) fiberglass boat after leaving Mexico's Pacific coast in late 2012.

Alvarenga says a 24-year-old companion died during the trip because he could not stomach a diet of urine, turtle blood, raw fish and bird flesh.

Doctors declared Alvarenga in remarkable physical health despite his ordeal.

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