Around here the blue of the sky almost seamlessly flows into the blue of the sea, but that’s not what they mean by ‘blue zone’. That term refers to a number of areas in the world where people live measurably longer and there are relatively many centenarians. The island of Icarias is one of them. I still doubt whether I want to live to be a hundred, but just in case, I would like to know how they actually do that.
The first impression of Icarias is one of ‘instant impact’. A neighbor sends us away from the quay in Agios Kirykos where we want to moor our Coco. That night he woke up to what sounded like an earthquake. It turned out to be a few large rocks that had broken off the mountain wall and rolled into the harbor. Fortunately without major accidents. From the jetty on the other side we observe how the clean-up action continues. No deposition, no helmets, just stand aside and get away quickly if things go wrong. Even before everything is ready, ships are allowed to moor again. It’s not far off, but all ends well.
When I later pass work on the street with Sammie on my way to the vet, I see a similar picture. All the street pits are open and everyone is apparently supposed to see this and step next to them instead of falling in. So for sure risk management cannot be the reason why people are getting so old here.
When it comes to the vet, it is not much different. Sammie gets his second vaccination and I expect that we will end up in a spotless white practice room somewhere behind the crowded and unsterile pet shop. Nothing is less true. When the vet finally arrives in his leisure suit he sits down behind a messy desk still smoking his cigarette. No gloves, no sterile clothing and no mask. He invites me to sit on the other chair. While chatting with a friend that has also entered the shop he prepares Sammie’s syringe, while his ‘assistant’ is ready with a cotton ball dipped in blue methylated spirit. In the meantime I’m reassuring myself with thoughts of the blue zone. And everything ends well again.
All didn’t end well with the mythical figure Icarus, after whom this island is named. He reportedly escaped from captivity on the island of Crete with wings made by his father. If against his warning he flies too close to the sun, the wax that holds the feathers of its wings melts and he crashes into the sea near Icaria. Pride comes before a fall, we learn from this. But ofcourse he came from Crete. Not a blue zone …
But what do they actually do to get this old? It’s difficult to find out on the spot, so we consult the omniscient internet and are presented with this illuminating diagram. You should not drink wine or just a lot of really good wine. Soy, nuts, grains and vegetables are healthy, but down here they prefer to eat fish, gyros and souvlaki. With family and friends. And a glass of wine, of course. In the bright sunshine. I think I’m starting to get it. Then we are already very well on our way. So who knows. We will still live be a hundred.