When a normal fishing trip goes terrible wrong and becomes an unbelievable story of the human spirit, we all need to sit up and learn a thing or two from it. It’s not every day you drift at sea for almost a year, only to be rescued safe and sound in one piece. Here’s what you can learn from the story of Jose Ivans, who survived the Pacific Ocean for 16 months.
It was similar to a shot from any Hollywood movie, a man in tattered shorts, unruly hair and beard, walking out of the sea onto the beach, out of nowhere. The two female’s islanders of reef Ebon, Marshall Island, must not have dreamt of Jose Ivans sight in their wildest dreams.
His story is one of mental and physical endurance both. Little did he know in December 2012, that when he would venture out for shark fishing with his companion Ezekiel, aged 15 or 18, he would lay sight on land after a year and alone.
The press calls him ‘Miracle Man of the Pacific
‘, and he sure has raised quite a few curious questions, regarding his story, which the critics amongst us refuse to buy.
His 24ft boat had started drifting out of control once the propeller engines broke down on 21st
December 2012. Their attempts to attract other passer by vessels were futile. The only solution was to stay calm and face what comes their way.
Soon the water and food ran out and they had to switch to eating fish that were swimming close to the boat and turtle blood for liquid intake. But, his companion could not keep the raw food down and gave up fighting after four weeks.
The enticement for cannibalism must have been the biggest battle for Jose to fight, righteous of him to stick to turtles instead.
We can only imagine a fraction of the loneliness, despair and the wait for an inevitable death that he must have felt day after day. No fishing rods were found on the boat, only a knife and a small cover to protect him from the sun.
The thought of suicide did cross his mind, but he chose to pray and believed in the mysterious ways of God. He longed to see and talk to his wife and daughter. How desperate and helpless he must have felt, to be not able to tell them that he’s ok.
A few hours without a mobile signal drives us nuts, here was a man floating alone in the Pacific, without a soul in sight.
There was no rain for days together, he started grabbing turtles and drank their blood. Swallowed his own urine, supposedly caught sea gulls, caught fish with a hook and ate them alive.
Soon, days and nights merged into one and he started losing grasp over reality and was on the verge of giving up all hope. Scorched by the sun, with every muscles and limb in his body hurting, he hung onto his last thread of hope.
He finally hit land and gathered all his inner strength swam ashore, near a reef at Ebon. The two women understood his story somewhat and offered him a lift to the closest largest village.
The village folk welcomed this stranger, who had visible evidence of the torture he had bore at sea, with open arms. Fed him, clothed him and took care of him. Ola Fieldstad an anthropology student understood his story somewhat by sign language and drawings, as nobody spoke Spanish there.
For all those who have seen Tom Hank’s Castaway
, will see a striking resemblance between Jose Ivan and his character in the movie.
For the less God fearing amongst us, yes he does look in much better health than you would expect someone to be, after such an experience. His original physical condition has more to do with that.
The doctors say his body has bloated due to edema, which occurs after prolonged exposure to sun and salt.
Steak and eggs loyalists, please note that turtle blood provides the same nutrition as these two favorite dishes.
He might get over the physical ordeal, but it sure will take a long time to get over the mental one. We wish him happy reunion with his family in El Salvador, and a quick recovery. He sure has inspired many to achieve the impossible.