The 123-year-old man whose birth date is listed as July 16, 1890, in Bolivia’s civil registrar, lives in an isolated village near Lake Titicaca at 13,100 feet (about 4,000 meters). The 123-year-old man is illiterate, has only a few teeth, walks without a cane, and does not wear glasses. At the supposed age of 123, Carmelo Flores Laura does not really remember how old he is. He just knows he is more than a century old, reported The Associated Press via The Telegraph on Aug. 15, 2013.
According to the Guinness World Records, the oldest living person verified by original proof of birth is Misao Okawa, a 115-year-old Japanese woman. The oldest verified age of any person was 122 years and 164 days, which was Jeanne Calment of France, who died in 1997.
According to Eugenio Condori, who is the director of Bolivia’s civil registrar, however, the 123-year-old man’s birth date is recorded as July 16, 1890. When Eugenio Condori showed The Associated Press reporter the registry, he explained that birth certificates did not exist in Bolivia until 1940 and that births were registered with baptism certificates provided by Roman Catholic priests. Unfortunately, not being willing to share the 123-year-old man’s baptism certificate with the AP reporter because “it is a private document,” leaves the validity of the true age of allegedly 123-year-old Carmelo Flores Laura in question.
But does it really matter?
Watching the allegedly 123-year-old man in the BBC video certainly looks like it is a man who might be over 100 years old, and it makes one wonder about the man’s secret to longevity.
"I walk a lot, that's all. I go out with the animals," says Carmelo Flores Laura, who long herded cattle and sheep. "I don't eat noodles or rice, only barley. I used to grow potatoes, beans, oca (an Andean tuber)."
Besides breathing in the fresh air near Lake Titicaca at 13,100 feet, the old man drinks the water that comes from the snow-capped peak of Illampu, one of Bolivia's highest mountains. The old man says that he has never been further than La Paz, which is 50 miles away.
Other than his animals and a few other elderly neighbors, the 123-year-old man leads quite a solitary life as cattle and sheep herder. He misses his wife who died more than a decade ago. One of his three children is still alive, and he has 40 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.
In his youth, the 123-year-old man says that he did drink some alcohol, remembers hunting and eating fox, and that he ate pork when it was available.
“His gums bulge with coca leaf, a mild stimulant that staves off hunger. Like most Bolivian highlands peasants, he has been chewing it all his life.”
In addition to chewing coca leaf, walking a lot, being with the animals, breathing in fresh air, and drinking healthy water, the 123-year-old man also credits his longevity to staying active and eating a variety of diet. “I’ve eaten foxes and lizards.”