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110 Year-Old Nicaraguan Reveals “Secret of Life”

April 07, 2014

NICARAGUA - A 110-year-old Nicaraguan who knew Augusto C. Sandino, saw the rise and fall of the Somoza dictatorship, and lives in a deserted old station of his country’s defunct railway, revealed his secret of longevity: “knowing how to live.” Hector Gaitan, a former telegraph operator, miner, guerrilla, artist and railroad employee, told Efe he is convinced that “knowing how to live is the best science.” Though his age makes him unable to walk without help and only able to see out of one eye, Gaitan said he has all he needs to live indefinitely: “the good company of my wife and my sons and daughters; they have never given me any problems,” he said. One of his sons, also called Hector, not only never gave him problems, but has given him pride and pleasure since he became an icon of Nicaraguan radionovelas back in the mid-1950s. He is so long-lived that he was present when his hometown of Ocotal, 223 kilometers (139 miles) north of Managua, celebrated its 100th anniverary, and is still alive to celebrate its 200th anniversary. Some memories are lost, but he gives isolated details about why he has lived so long. Exercising, not drinking alcohol, having just one woman at a time, being honest, not getting involved in problems and enjoying what he has, are what keep him healthy despite the passing of the years, he said. Not to be found among his recommendations is a balanced, carefully selected diet. “I even eat monkey,” he said. Gaitan, once tall and strong, and who has kept his white skin, saw how a small, peaceful man called “Negro” was rejected by the peope of Nueva Segovia when he tried to convince them to fight against the invasion of the United States almost 100 years ago. The man was Augusto C. Sandino. “No one believed him, but he had an angelic patience and what he said was always reasonable,” Gaitan recalls. He joined Sandino’s cause and fought together with a man he only remembers as Agustin.

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