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A fishy story out of San Blas

25 February 2007

Sombrero-tip to “Dollard” at Thorn Tree Mexico Forum:

They claim to have survived for 289 days at sea, but, four months on, the awe-inspiring tale of the Mexican fishermen looks less like a miracle and more like an elaborate hoax.   Mike Guy reports for the Independent (UK):

Last October, Salvador “Chava” Ordoñez and four other fishermen embarked from San Blas, a village on the west coast of Mexico, for what was supposed to be a three-day shark-fishing expedition. On the first night they ran out of petrol (or the engine broke down, or both, depending on which version you read) and their small boat was swept away by the same strong winds and currents that carried Portuguese spice traders to Micronesia in the 17th century.Nine and a half months later, the 27-ft craft was spotted by the crew of a tuna-fishing boat in the waters off Baker Island, a tiny atoll some 5,500 miles west of San Blas. Two of the men had died of starvation, but 37-year-old Chava Ordoñez survived, along with Jesus Vidaña and Lucio Rendon, both 27. …Los Perdidos, as they’re known in Mexico, claimed they survived by drinking rainwater from the filthy bilge and eating seagulls, raw fish, and sea turtles. They read aloud from Chava’s tattered Bible, while Lucio, a musician, played air-guitar concertos to stave off boredom, as toxic on a small boat as the seawater around it.

The three pescadores (fishermen) had apparently endured the most remarkable odyssey of survival ever recorded: 289 days at sea, utterly exposed to the blazing sun, with nothing but two useless outboard engines and their own inner toughness. It was the kind of accidental epic journey that brought the Vikings to North America, the Maoris to New Zealand, Noah to Mount Ararat.

As news of their rescue flashed around the world, the fishermen’s journey took on near-biblical significance. The Catholic Church’s League of Bishops declared their survival a profound miracle, an “example of the power of faith”. …the tale of Los Perdidos is sufficiently fantastic that it requires a certain degree of faith to believe it at all.

…In San Blas many locals have opinions about Los Perdidos, but few have as much authority as Antonio Aguayo. …He thinks it likely that the three were involved in some sort of smuggling operation.

OR…

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