(CNN)“Buenos dias,” Salvador Alvarenga said to his friend, who was propped up in the bow of their fishing boat. “What is death like?”
Ezequiel Crdoba, his body hardening and turning purple, did not reply. So Alvarenga answered for his dead sea mate. “Good. It is peaceful.” Alvarenga looked out to the horizon, the ocean as endless as it had been for the last two months that they’d been lost at sea.
“Why wasn’t it both of us? Why am I the one who continues to suffer?” Alvarenga asked the corpse. He remembered Crdoba, hysterical in the early days, crying about his mother and starving for tortillas. But in his final hours, the suffering lifted. Alvarenga craved the peace Crdoba had unfairly found by dying.
Alvarenga continued his one-sided conversation with Crdoba’s body for six days before he realized he was conversing seamlessly with a dead man. Alvarenga snapped out of a haze, knowing he was slowly going crazy. He decided he needed to drop Crdoba’s body into the ocean to save his own sanity. Alvarenga easily picked up his friend’s corpse, the thin frame now blackened under the hot sun, and slipped him into the water.
“Who am I going to talk to? Why is he dead and not me?” Alvarenga was now suffering an unimaginable, hellish journey on the ocean, alone.
Four hundred thirty-eight.
Even now when Alvarenga speaks aloud the number of days he spent on the Pacific Ocean floating in a 25-foot fishing boat without a sail or motor, the number seems too large to comprehend. But he lived through every day of it.
November 17, 2012 began like any other day for the intrepid shark fishermen of Costa Azul, Mexico, Alvarenga remembers. The renegade fishermen, operating out of small, nimble fiberglass fishing boats, called themselves Los Tiburoneros, or “Shark Hunters.” They fished in the risky deep-sea waters 50 to 100 miles offshore. An El Salvador native with little formal education, Alvarenga found a way to make money in the Mexican coastal village. But he also found a way of life: play hard, work hard, fish deep.
Alvarenga, then 35, planned a two-day fishing trip with Crdoba, an inexperienced 22-year-old. Alvarenga knew a storm was coming, but he’d weathered many before.
“It wasn’t the storm that was the problem,” remembered Alvarenga. “My engine gave out.”
For seven days, the storm thrashed their boat. The seas were so rough, Crdoba was tossed into the water once and was saved only because Alvarenga pulled him back in by the hair. In addition to the engine, Alvarenga lost his radio and fishing gear. The boat had no cover — just an icebox, a large trunk used by the fishermen to store their catch until they got to shore. The men also had a bucket, which they used to bail water out of the boat.
By the time the storm lifted, Alvarenga knew they had drifted far from Mexico. He could see airplanes flying overhead. But with no mast and no flares, the tiny boat was invisible in the vast ocean.
“We didn’t think about hunger at first,” Alvarenga said. “It was the thirst. We had to drink our own urine after the storm. It wasn’t until a month later that we finally got some rain water.”
Alvarenga had been fishing since he was a child. That ingrained skill would now keep him and Crdoba alive. In El Salvador, he’d learned how to catch a fish with no hooks or lines by sticking his bare hands in the water. Now deep in the Pacific, the fish would skim past his hands until he snatched them with his fingers.
But the few fish he caught weren’t enough. Their bodies were starved for water and protein; Alvarenga could feel his throat closing in on itself. Extreme sun blasted the men, and their only refuge was huddling together in their icebox.
Sea birds began lingering around their boat. For them, the fiberglass vessel was an unexpected place to rest in the vast water. When Alvarenga grabbed the first one, he recalled, Crdoba stared at him in horror. He ripped it apart like a raw chicken. But unlike processed chicken, these sea birds had a vital source of liquid: their blood.
“We cut their throats and drank their blood. It made us feel better.” Desperately hungry, they tried to eat every part of the thin birds, right down to their feathers. The only part they discarded were the contents of the birds’ stomachs, which were often filled with plastic and garbage. Everything in the ocean became a possible food source — sea turtles, small sharks, and seaweed. But the ocean and the skies rarely provided for them consistently. The men counted the days in between food. Three days, catch one fish. Another three days, catch two birds.
“I’d heard about Mexicans who’d done this before,” Alvarenga said. “How did they do it? How come they were spared? ‘I shouldn’t be a coward,’ I told myself. I prayed a lot. And I asked God for patience.”
Patience had long left Crdoba, Alvarenga said. “He would cry a lot, talking about his mama, eating tortillas, and drinking something cold. I helped him as much as I could. I would hug him. I told him, ‘We’ll be rescued soon. We’ll hit an island soon.’ But he would sometimes get violent, screaming that we were going to die.”
It was raining the day Crdoba died, recalls Alvarenga. The two men, as they’d done almost daily for weeks, were huddled inside the icebox. They prayed. Crdoba asked Alvarenga to visit his mother and said that he was now with God.
“We said our goodbyes. He wasn’t in pain. He was calm. He didn’t suffer.”
Jealousy over Crdoba’s death overwhelmed Alvarenga. He contemplated suicide in the days after dropping his friend’s body in the ocean. Only the fear that God would condemn his soul to hell stopped him from killing himself.
Alvarenga was more than 10 years older than Crdoba. Alvarenga believes he survived, in part, because of his experience in the open sea, but he also credits simple optimism and faith that God would save him.
He focused on finding food. He prayed more and sang hymns, even in the most devastating moments at sea. Alvarenga remembers numerous cargo ships passing him by, but he doesn’t know if all the ships were real or if he imagined them. “I would signal them and nothing would happen,” he said. “But I thought God will determine which boat will save me.”
In the end, it was not a boat, but land that saved Alvarenga. After 438 days of floating on endless water, he saw mountains. When he felt he was close enough, Alvarenga dove into the water, swimming toward what he would later learn was one in the string of the Marshall Islands.
“I hit the ground first. My boat hit the ground second. I felt the waves, I felt the sand, and I felt the shore. I was so happy that I fainted on the sand. I didn’t care if I died at that point. I was so relieved. I knew at that point I didn’t have to eat any more fish if I didn’t want to.”
Alvarenga connected with residents near the beach where he landed on January 29, 2014, but no one spoke Spanish so they resorted to pictures and hand gestures to communicate. They gave him water but he immediately began to bloat, so the residents called the mayor’s office and Alvarenga was ushered onto a big shipping boat that transported him to the Marshall Islands’ biggest hospital.
Wearing tattered clothes and with his hair and beard matted wildly from 14 months at sea, Alvarenga stepped off the boat to news cameras and reporters. In days, he went from the most solitary existence imaginable to the most-wanted interview on the planet.
Alvarenga described himself as a prisoner who had been in solitary confinement for more than a year. He had no idea how to behave. “I was so scared. I was afraid of people. I couldn’t find the right words after being alone for so long.”
Skepticism immediately followed the images broadcast around the world of the remarkable castaway. Alvarenga couldn’t face them. He asked the hospital to shield him from reporters who were sneaking in to the hospital. He began to call them “las cucarachas,” or the cockroaches. Even on his flight back to El Salvador, his very first time on a plane, reporters sat near him and tried to snap pictures.
Alvarenga didn’t care that journalists didn’t believe his story. The University of Hawaii and a number of independent oceanographers would later say his improbable survival was entirely possible. Buoys and weather models show an ocean drift matched his 6,000-mile journey west. He’s collaborated with journalist Jonathan Franklin in a book about his remarkable survival, called “438 Days.”
Alvarenga kept his promise to Crdoba’s mother. He visited her in Mexico and delivered her son’s dying message. He now lives in El Salvador, mending a relationship with his daughter, Ftima, whom he had abandoned as a child. He doesn’t drink and continues to pray every day.
The man who once reveled in his life as a member of “Los Tiburoneros” now can’t bear to enter the ocean. He doesn’t fish. Alvarenga says he sees a therapist who is urging him to go back into the water, for his sanity. “I’m afraid,” he says. “There are still nights when I can’t sleep. The ocean keeps haunting me.”
He is admittedly a different man. He may be a better man. And Salvador Alvarenga says he is absolutely a grateful man. “I’m happy to be alive. I’m happy to be with my family. I’m proud to be what I am. I am simply glad I’m here.”
How will your college experience go based on your personality?
There are practically over 15 different MBTI types, and which category you fit into can illustrate or impact the way in which you perceive your college experience.
However, as eccentric humans, we wont just fit into one category and shouldnt be labeled as X, Y or Z. Many times, you can find yourself shifting and leaning more toward one type of personality over another throughout your college years.
Depending on the situation, we may believe we are one way or another. The friends you choose to make may reflect the type of personality you have, and often times, you will see your personality not matching or fitting well with some.
That can be frustrating. But, dont be alarmed because this is natural. Sometimes, personalities just dont click.
The most important thing you can do before heading into college is become aware of the fact we are all different and keep an open mind. Sometimes, our differences can unite us. Sometimes, it is our differences and our situational awareness that make us bond.
Ive shrunken the 16 different personality types into the four ways your college experience will go, depending on that type:
Your personality says a lot about how you will enjoy and value your college years.
You hold everything in life so personal and live a life full of meaning, so your college years are going to be very important in regard tothe types of friendships you make, the teachers you learn from, the people you encounter and interact with on a daily basis and the resources and environment you surround yourself by.
Everything will mean something. Everything will be special and an experience you wont forget.
Youll mostly engage yourself in extracurricular clubs and activities, and youll find that you make the best of college through these organizations and your role in society within your college campus.
You are the difference makers, and you cant just stand back and watch all the action happening. You go in there, make it happen and make a difference.
Youll love to form meaningful relationships, whether as friendships or something more.
These are the people who race through college. Theyre not particularly taking it all in, but seeing it as another step or stage to conquering their plan of graduate school.
This type of personality is more logically oriented in all tasks at hand and stick to the books. If you fit into one of these categories, you wont necessarily find that college is a place for socializing, but one for hitting the books, absorbing material and learning as much as you can from your courses.
You have plans to do great things in the world, and college is the first step to getting there. College is going to be a piece of cake for you because youre determined and focused to get in, get the job done and get out.
Youre here for strictly business and find it more useful making relationships with your books than anything else.
Your type of personality will change and transition as you try to fit in and find your niche.
You are good at using your environment and resources. Youre good at book work and making friends.
You are the type of people who are well-rounded and can be involved in a lot of campus activities, have a social life and excel in school work because thats just who you are. You love being everywhere at the same time.
You have a nice work and social experience and can balance your work-life schedules with working hard and forming some relationships.
This personality is not only logical, but extroverted. They are the research lovers and find theyre not only going to love their work, but theyre going to become successful through their work experience and education.
You are more selective in the relationships you form, but the ones you do are meaningful. You love making strong connections with people who are genuine and bring out your caring side.
You can interpret your personality type based on your MBPT, or you can just throw it out the window and make the best of it. Its all about perception and how you make the best or worst of everything.
How you react to experiences shape your college experience. Some days will be better than others, but its up to you to see the difference and enjoy the ride.
You can love or hate college, and sometimes you can love it and hate it at the same time. You have the power to control your mind and see the beauty in everything, whether youll make the college the best years of your life, a stepping stone, a place where you found your bridesmaids and best friends or the time you make your mark and leave your footprints.
Its all up to you. You hold the power and the choice to perceive how college will go for you.
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It’s called “Never Alone” (or “Kisima Ingitchuna”). And it wasn’t developed by Nintendo, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, or any of the other big game studios.
It was the brainchild of the Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) a nonprofit community support organization for Alaska Natives and their families.
As more and more Alaska Natives move out of traditional communities and into urban areas, indigenous languages are disappearing and with them, traditional knowledge. Many don’t have a choice because climate change threatens to erode and, in some cases, even destroy native towns and villages around the state.
For many, life in Alaska’s cities is hardly easy. According to Amy Fredeen, executive vice president and chief financial officer of the CITC, Alaska Native youth in Anchorage are plagued by high dropout and suicide rates. Passing traditional knowledge down under these conditions becomes all the more challenging.
“We saw video games as a way to connect to our youth in a place where they’re already at,” Fredeen told Upworthy. The group also hoped that sales of the video game would help reduce their dependence on federal grant money.
There was a problem, however: No one on the CITC had ever made a video game before.
Undaunted, the council cold-called E-Line Media, a Seattle-based entertainment and video game development company with a message: “Come to Anchorage.”
According to Fredeen, E-Line urged the council to approach the project with caution: Video game development is a highly risky business and particularly challenging for a nonprofit with limited cash supplies.
But the group was determined and the developers were impressed.
E-Line signed on. And off they went.
“It ran the gamut from being terrible stereotypes to just appropriation,” Fredeen said.
The group found that not only were native video game characters exceedingly rare, but when they did appear, it was often as sidekicks exhibiting a mishmash of cultural signifiers cobbled together from various and unrelated communities or, worse, as one-dimensional villains.
“Some of them were really almost obscene,” Fredeen said.
Nuna, the game’s hero, teams up with an arctic fox to find the source of the blizzard that’s threatening her community. Players explore themes of resourcefulness, cooperation, and the transfer of knowledge from one generation to the next through the beautifully rendered gameplay.
“When I saw that come to life on screen, when they were using the scrimshaw in an animated way to tell a story, it brought tears to my eyes.” Amy Fredeen
E-Line credits the game’s part-Iupiaq lead writer, Ishmael Hope, for helping ensure that Alaska Native voices were front and center in the development process.
We want to be culturally appropriate without cultural appropriation,” Matt Swanson, one of the game’s producers told Upworthy.
According to Swanson, the original villain of the game was slated to be a raven before their collaborators pointed out that wouldn’t make sense in an Alaska Native context.
“As Westerners, we have lots of stories where [the raven] is a trickster character, and things like that. And they pushed back on that and said, ‘Look, that’s not really culturally appropriate. The raven in our culture is a much more sort of sacred character.'”
It was a surprise to the E-Line team, which highlighted the importance of listening and their role as students in the story development process.
In addition to the main game, “Never Alone” features hours of documentary footage of Alaska Native elders and community members sharing traditional stories, explaining customs, and passing down knowledge.
The team was initially worried that the footage which the player has the option of watching would disrupt the gameplay but later received tons of positive feedback on the feature.
Scrimshaw is a traditional form of bone or ivory carving. According to Fredeen, while scrimshaw today is most often done in single panel, it was traditionally used in Alaska Native communities as a multi-panel, serial storytelling device.
“When I saw that come to life on screen, when they were using the scrimshaw in an animated way to tell a story, it brought tears to my eyes,” Fredeen said. “The instant I saw that, I knew the team was listening to who we were as a people and how we really connected with each other.”
“After the game launched, we’ve been getting this incredible response from people of all different backgrounds on how getting to see an indigenous main character in a game, and seeing cultural representation in a game has resonated with them,” Swanson said.
For Fredeen, the importance of that representation can’t be overstated and was evident from the first time she saw a group of Alaska Native youth encounter the game.
“When they saw the video game on the screen, and when they saw a character that looked like them and the dress was familiar to them, and they saw their community members on the video with the video game, you could just see the pride on their faces.”
It’s been amazing all around,” Fredeen said.
“People just get excited in Alaska,” she added. “… They’re excited to see something that was made with Alaskans.”
Being the new kid on campus is as freeing as it is overwhelming. There are few experiences in life more exciting than breaking free from parental supervision and starting out with a clean slate. College is a four-year transition into adulthood that is yours to control, and there are many directions you can take.
Incoming freshmen should not worry about a lack of hobbies or campus clubs to kill spare time between classes. These days, no matter what your interest is computer games, skydiving, academic pursuits, zombies, nature or even “Harry Potter” fan fiction you can bet there’s a university club for it.
Here are five of the most unique university clubs and activities I’ve come across in my research so far:
Humans vs. zombies is the campus activity that answers the prayers of The Walking Dead fans everywhere. Like a game of tag on steroids, humans vs. zombies is a weeklong adrenaline rush complete with Nerf guns, designated campus safety zones and team alliances.
All players with the exception of one original zombie start the journey as humans. The game ends when all humans have been tagged by zombies, or all humans have completed their missions and survived the week. Since its creation at Goucher college in 2005, humans vs. zombies has been played at over 1,000 locations across six continents.
The muggle adaptation of the magical sport from “Harry Potter” has taken college campuses by storm since it started at Middlebury College in 2005.
A combination of lacrosse, dodgeball and rugby, Quidditch is a co-ed, full-contact sport. The team consists of: one keeper to guard the team’s hoops, one seeker to catch the elusive golden snitch (a person dressed up with a tennis ball in a tube sock attached to their waist), two beaters to block the other team with dodge balls and three chasers to throw volleyballs through the opposing team’s hoops and score.
It’s a game that requires both mental and physical agility, and yes, brooms are included. The official governing body for the sport, US Quidditch, has almost 200 teams nationwide with over 4,000 athletes.
League of Legends, a multiplayer online battle arena video game, is the reigning champion of online sports. In 2014, over 27 million watchers worldwide tuned in to the final round of the League of Legends world championship in Seoul, South Korea.
To put that into perspective, the final championship round garnered a larger audience than either the World Series or the NBA finals. So the fact that it’s a huge hit with the college gaming crowd is no surprise. For the hardcore gamers, there’s a perk to this: Several universities now offer scholarships dedicated to League of Legends excellence. Even better? Some colleges offer an information technology degree with cyber gaming as a concentration, so you can turn your video game passion into your career.
Although squirrel feeding has a long history on the University of Michigan campus, it wasn’t until two students created this club in 2002 that the hobby began to pick up speed. By 2004, over 400 members joined the club, making it one of the largest student organizations at Michigan.
Today, it’s the perfect club for animal lovers who go nuts over feeding and watching these rodents in their natural habitat. Dedicated to the welfare of the squirrels, members can expect these club meetings to include nothing but fun and the sheer joy of feeding peanuts to resident squirrels.
Not even a bad exam grade can bring Northwestern University’s happiness club members down. Since 2010, this nonprofit student group has brought free hugs and smiles to stressed out students around the Northwestern campus.
Club members host annual events where you can relive your childhood with sidewalk chalking, jump rope, hopscotch and four-square, among other carefree activities. If you’re looking to make a new friend, or simply just need a pick-me-up, these guys make it easy.
I’ve found that when it comes to campus clubs and hobbies, the sky’s the limit. Starting out in college is a huge adjustment, and getting active with campus activities is a great way to find your niche and relieve the stress of adult responsibilities.
Getting involved is also a fantastic way to put your leadership skills on display. So, that unusual hobby you have? It may just be the next big campus tradition.
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