Colombian Fisherman Returns Home in Time for His Funeral

After spending five days at sea, an exhausted and weakened fisherman staggered home just in time for his own funeral.

"When I saw that (my family) was mourning for me, I started to cry," Jose Reyes said in an interview with Caracol radio Friday.

The 68-year-old Reyes' ordeal began on Jan. 19 as he was returning home after a day fishing in the Pacific Ocean off the beaches of Nuqui, an isolated jungle region in northwestern Colombia.

In a thick fog, paddling in his canoe against rough waves, Reyes became lost. The ocean's current carried him farther from the beach. He said he spent five days struggling to survive under a burning sun, without food or fresh water.

As the days passed, his family gave him up for dead and began preparations for his funeral.

"I didn't sleep, waiting for any boat, when finally I saw a small light and I rowed until I reached a fishing boat," said the fisherman.

Returning home the night of Jan. 23, he arrived to see his family weeping over an empty coffin.

With unpredictable seas and many boats lacking motors, such accidents and drownings are common in Colombia.

Colombian Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote a novella based on the case of a sailor who was adrift at sea after his boat sunk.