If the public records of Bolivia are to be believed, the oldest living person to ever be documented is Carmelo Flores Laura. He is said to be 123 years old. He is a native Aymara living in a hut with a straw roof and dirt floor. He does not know how to read, doesn’t speak Spanish, and is toothless.
Scroll down for video
He can move around without an assistive device, and he doesn’t even wear eye glasses. The only part that isn’t working so well on his body is his hearing. If you want to be heard, you must speak directly into Flores’s ear.
He told reporters of his body ailments, saying, “I see a bit dimly. I had good vision before. But I saw you coming.”
He walked down the dirt road to greet the media there to interview him. He smiled and sat down on a rock. In his mouth was a coca leaf, which is a stimulant that wards off hunger. Like plenty of Bolivians, he has been chewing coca leaves throughout his life.
In the Guinness Book of World Records, the holder of the oldest living person to be verified with proof of live birth is Japanese woman Misao Okawa. She is 115 years old. Okawa beat Jeanne Calment of France, who was 122 years of age when she passed away in 1997.
Longest Lived Human
Spokesperson for Guinness, Jamie Panas, said that there hasn’t been a claim filed for the Bolivian man. Flores himself says that he should be 100 years old or more. Because his memory is fading, it’s unclear whether his age can be verified. His grandson Edwin, 27, claims that Flores fought in the Chaco War with Paraguay in 1933, but he doesn’t recall much of that time in his life.
The Bolivian civil registrar has shown the media their records, which list Flores’ birth date as July 16, 1890. There were no records of birth certificates in Bolivia until 1940, so the births were registered with baptismal certificates that were provided by priests.
The country allows the baptismal certificate to be valid proof of proof. The document itself was not shown to the press because it is a private document. Flores says his long life secret is simple.
“I walk a lot, that’s all. I go out with the animals. I don’t eat noodles or rice, only barley. I used to grow potatoes, beans, oca [an Andean tuber].”
Flores gets his drinking water from the snow-caps of Illampu, one of the highest peaks in Bolivia. He does not drink alcohol, but he does indulge in pork when it is available. In his youth, he hunted and ate game.
The local villager has spent his whole life in his community, saying he has not been farther than La Paz, which is 50 miles from his home. He’s lived a generally healthy life and claims to have never had a serious illness.
He was married, but his wife passed on over ten years ago. They had three children, but there is only one surviving now, Cecilio, who is 67 years old. He does have a large family with 40 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.
Recognized for his age
His grandson Edwin lives next door with his family. He says his grandfather worked as a rancher until 1952, when the land was given out by the country to the peasants.
Frasquia is a different place altogether. Electricity only came in three years ago, and people in the village still live their life like they are living in the past. Villagers still care for the land with ox-driven plows, donkeys and cattle are are free to graze, and life is peaceful in the quaint hamlet. The majority of the residents are elderly or middle aged. The young have migrated elsewhere.