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I met Jacinta last year, in a Mayan village called Chichicastenango, in Guatemala. Her story begins many, many years ago. It was 1916, when a 50 years old woman in Guatemala decided to cause herself an abortion. She thought she is too old to have another baby. The abortion failed and a few months later Jacinta was born. Now make the calculation. Yes, Jacinta is 103 years old. She was a surviver, even before she was born. She was the youngest daughter, so according to tradition she took care of her parents until they passed away. Then she got married, but the marriage wasn’t so great. Her husband used to be quite oppressive so they didn’t get along very well. She was 70 years old when he passed away. But Jacinta admitted frankly: after that she finally started to enjoy herself for the first time in her life. She was still feeling young and the best time of her life was just beginning. Jacinta lived by herself until she was 99 years old. Then, after broking a foot, she decided to live with one of her granddaughters. The granddaughter told me that Jacinta was always a humorous person. Once in a while she tells her laughing that her bed is really cold and she needs somebody there. When I met them, they were coming from a technician where they adjusted Jacinta’s hearing aid. Now she needs it more than ever, because she recently started to learn Spanish. Although Spanish is the official language of the country, Jacinta have spoken all of her life only Quiché, her indigenous native tongue. Now she watches TV programs in Spanish and asks her granddaughter about the new words that she hears. Incredible, right? So what are the secrets of Jacinta’s longevity? One is for sure the food. Jacinta always loved to cook and kept in her memory dozens of traditional Mayan recipes. Her granddaughter gathered them and opened a traditional restaurant. Most recipes are very sophisticated, meat is rarely used, and there’s a rich combination of herbs. I could go on with stories about this extraordinary woman, but 103 years of strength and beauty would never get enough text. I just hope this inspires you to always be as young in spirit and beautiful as Jacinta.
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