From the Blue Zone: 3 Longer Life Lessons from Costa Rica
Rancho Humo Bird Preserve, Guanacaste, Costa Rica (photo: Doug Wallace)
If you want to live to be 100, take a cue from Costa Rica with these three long life lessons from this Blue Zone, lending a new outlook on longevity.
When you visit a place where the life expectancy is one of the highest in the world, you want to know what they’re doing right. A week of fun in the Guanacaste province of northern Costa Rica taught me more than a few good long-life lessons.
The Nicoya district in Guanacaste is one of the renowned five Blue Zones in the world, regions where people are living to age 90 and beyond for a variety of reasons – diet, exercise and social behaviours, among them. (The others are Ikaria, Greece; Loma Linda, California; Sardinia, Italy; and Okinawa, Japan.) Apparently, Nicoya has the world’s second highest concentration of male centenarians.
- Stay connected to your roots. In the tiny village of Guaitil, famous for its pottery workshops, you can sit and watch craftspeople apply the same techniques their ancestors did, using clay from the nearby mountains, natural colouring and nature-inspired designs. They uphold artisanal traditions that date back almost 1,000 years. This sense of belonging to both the land and their ancient way of family life is what keeps these people motivated and working – long after many of us would have retired to sit and watch TV all day.
2. You can teach an old dog new tricks. William Salom, owner of Rancho Humo, a working cattle ranch and bio reserve on the Tempisque River at the edge of the Palo Verde National Park, above, is one of those people for whom the old (and negative) adage is reversed. With his wife Patricia, he recently finished turning what was once the family vacation home into a 10-room luxury hotel, complete with traditional cuisine, nature walks and all the fresh mountain air you can breathe. The message I got here is to not be afraid to switch gears and follow a passion. You’ll be surprised how committed you can be to something entirely new.
3. Calm the hell down. My father used to say: “The man who made time made lots of it.” He was right, of course. Even though it seems like there aren’t enough hours in a day, its just our perception of how busy we feel we should be that creates the unnecessary static. Everywhere I went in Nicoya, people like this local Nicoyan gentleman, above, had time to stop and ask how our visit was going, what we were doing, where we were going. This generosity of time – and spirit – was a definite teaching moment.