Saturday, February 23, 2008

Who Ever Said "Life Is Short"?

The Vilcabamba Valley, near Loja in southern Ecuador, is famous for its high level of biodiversity. Located 500 km south of the equator and ~1500 m above sea level, the mild climate is somewhat of an undying Spring. Temperature limbos between 18 and 28 C all year long, and with the help of incredibly fertile soil over 3000 plant varieties can thrive. The valley is also home to a rich variety of wildlife, including armadillos, ocelots, spectacled bears, jaguars, and over 500 species of birds.

In the scientific world, the valley is known for its large number of native residents who live well past the age of 100. In the United States, only 1 in approximately 1,800,000 people live to reach such an age. The prevalence in Vilcabamba is more impressive: 1 in 60.

Health experts attribute this long life to 1) naturally flowing mineral water, 2) fertile mountain soil allowing for a healthy organic diet, 3) peaceful life-style, and 4) exercise from walking in the mountains. Due to inherited genetic information, recent generations surely show a propensity to this longevity.

When the Spanish pillaged through the ancient Incan society, it was a money making venture. The amount of gold acquired is unimaginable. Sadly, times haven't changed. 56 riverfront and hillside home sites in Vilcabamba are being offered in an exclusive new development, Hacienda San Joaquin. The country estates are being sold for as much as $239,000. Hopefully buyers don't expect that longevity comes included.

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