There are a selection of locations world wide famed for the longevity of their residents.
In Japan, Okinawa’s sprightly centenarians have earned it the nickname “Land of the Immortals.” Campodimele, Italy’s “Village of Eternity,” is testomony to the Mediterranean eating regimen. Within the sunny Californian city of Loma Linda, a neighborhood of Seventh-Day Adventists reaping rewards of fresh dwelling.
There’s one long-lived nook of the globe you gained’t have heard talked about as a lot, and it’s residence to the world’s solely Museum of Longevity. That’s Lerik in southern Azerbaijan.
The South Caucasus nation is residence to a number of areas recognized for producing residents who stay to triple-figure ages, together with Lankaran and Nagorno-Karabakh. However one other, Lerik, is reputed to have the best focus of centenarians.
On this emerald land excessive above the clouds within the Talysh Mountains, reached by loop after loop of a serpentine street, folks appear to have found a secret to an extended and wholesome life.
The 2-room Museum of Longevity, in-built 1991 and renovated in 2010, holds greater than 2,000 reveals documenting the lives and reminiscences of the area’s oldest inhabitants.
It charts particular person lifespans with the home goods that they’ve outlived, equivalent to three generations of clothes irons. There are chests stuffed with headscarves and shirts, silver pitchers and bowls, superbly knitted socks, and hand-dyed rugs which can be nonetheless brightly coloured regardless of their age.
After which there are the letters, written in each Azerbaijani and Russian – private artifacts so outdated that the ink is beginning is fade.
Maybe probably the most charming options are the portraits of centenarians that cowl the museum’s partitions. These pictures, relationship from the Thirties, have been donated by French photographer Frederic Lachop.
The museum, and official Azerbaijan statistics, outline “centenarian” extra loosely than you’d count on: Right here, it means anybody over 90 years outdated.
Nevertheless, again in 1991, there have been greater than 200 folks in Lerik registered as being greater than 100 years outdated, out of a inhabitants of 63,000.
Numbers have been much less spectacular since then, which locals blame variously on radiation from communication towers and environmental decline, however might simply as simply be all the way down to extra rigorous record-keeping.
Immediately, there are 11 folks greater than 100 years outdated, out of an area inhabitants of 83,800.
Lerik’s present oldest citizen is Raji Ibrahimova, at 105 years. That’s a superb classic, nevertheless it pales compared to the age apparently reached by space’s most celebrated centenarian, Shirali Muslumov, a shepherd who supposedly lived to be 168.
The phone book of his passport declare that he was born in 1805 and his headstone states that he died in 1973. If true, it will make the the oldest particular person to have ever lived.
Sadly, again within the early nineteenth century, delivery registrations hardly ever happened in such distant villages as his birthplace of Barzavu, so there isn’t a certifable document of when he was born.
Numerous letters despatched from everywhere in the world on his varied birthdays depart little question that he was certainly of a really respectable age, nevertheless it’s maybe greatest to think about a minimal 20-year margin of error.
Amongst these corresponding with Muslumov have been Vietnamese communist chief Ho Chi Minh, who despatched a postcard greeting him with the endearment, “Pricey Grandpa.”
This longevity gene appears to run within the household. His 95-year-old daughter, Halima Qambarova, tells CNN Journey that – whereas she may not stay to 168, like her father – she at the least hopes to stay to the age of 150, like her grandfather, or 130, like her aunt.
When the climate turns chilly, most centenarians relocate to the kinder coastal climes of Lankaran, however Qambarova was nonetheless within the Lerik village of Barzavu when CNN Journey dropped by her father’s modest two-story residence, surrounded by large apple and pear bushes (most likely contemporaries of her well-known father).
Sitting by the window, wrapped in a scarf, she speaks with a slight accent, switching typically to her native language of Talysh, a dialect spoken by simply 200,000 folks and categorized as “susceptible” by UNESCO.
She reveals off her passport, which doesn’t listing a month or date of delivery, solely the yr: 1924. She could also be 95, however she is totally current, interacting together with her great-grandchildren, and demonstrating her full of life humorousness. When requested her age, she cheerfully replies, “15.”
“Stillness of the thoughts is a part of their secret,” the museum information says. “They steer clear of stress, interested by life fairly philosophically, dwelling someday at a time, with out a lot planning or fear for the long run.”
Qambarova’s day begins at daybreak; she doesn’t let herself sleep in. “I rise up as quickly as my eyes open,” she says.
She spends the entire day working within the backyard or round the home. Her room is small, with a thick mushy carpet and pillows on the ground. Many individuals right here favor sleeping on the bottom, with only a skinny blanket as an alternative of a mattress, because it’s believed to be the healthiest option to relaxation the again.
Opposite to common perception, the centenarians of Lerik do eat meat, however they inherited a desire for contemporary dairy merchandise equivalent to shor (cottage cheese), butter, milk and the yoghurt drink ayran from earlier centenarians, for whom the abstinence from meat was extra attributable to financial circumstance.
Qambarova’s daughter-in-law brings in a giant plate with pears and apples from their backyard and a few fragrant tea.
It’s natural, floral and refreshing. Again on the museum, the information reveals a desk with the varied herbs native to Lerik.
“The key of lengthy life is nice vitamin, the minerals within the spring water and the herbs that we add to tea to stop diseases, so folks don’t must take any drugs, solely utilizing the pure cures,” says the information. Certainly, Qambarova insists she’s by no means taken any medicine.
Past her home windows, it could appear that the village is quiet and nonetheless. However the bodily work that villagers put in every single day is immense. From dawn till sundown they work in gardens and fields in addition to round the home. They sew and knit and maintain large households.
Such was the approach to life of Mammadkhan Abbasov, a 103-year-old from Jangamiran village. Sitting on the carpet, throughout from the window, the centenarian has nearly fully misplaced his sight and might barely hear his son telling him that friends have arrived, however when he lastly catches it, he begins singing, providing prayers and good needs.
At Abbasov’s aspect is his nice grandson – a century hole between them.
Identical to Qambarova, Abbasov has been a busy villager his complete life, working within the fields till about seven years in the past, when his imaginative and prescient deteriorated.
“He has all the time been man and lived his life correctly,” his son says.
When it comes to meals, he eats “no matter God provides” with only one restriction – he by no means drinks alcohol.
Abbasov attributes his lengthy life to every day bodily exercise, to not the purpose of exhaustion, however sufficient to problem the physique.
Together with the nice vitamin from the farm merchandise, he additionally used to drink liters of ice-cold spring water, which is wealthy with minerals mentioned to contribute to longevity.
The headache-inducing altitudes of mountains may additionally be an element.
A 2017 examine by the College of Navarra, Spain, discovered that dwelling at excessive elevation decreases the chance of coronary heart illness, stroke and diabetes. A 2011 examine by the College of Colorado Denver discovered that these sky-high residents additionally stay longer.
The ages of a few of these celebrated centenarians should be disputed, however right here in Lerik their legacy lives on by means of the folks that also abide by the easy secret of Lerik’s longevity: bodily exercise, good vitamin, a lot of water and an perspective to life that claims: We solely stay as soon as, but when we do it proper, as soon as is sufficient.
Museum of Longevity, 22 A.Asadullayev avenue, Lerik, Azerbaijan; (025) 274-47-11