19 August 2013
Bolivian herder Carmelo Flores Laura is 123 years old, making him the oldest person ever
The native Aymara lives in a straw-roofed dirt-floor hut in an isolated hamlet near Lake Titicaca at 4000 metres, is illiterate, speaks no Spanish and has no teeth.
He walks without a cane and doesn't wear glasses. And though he speaks the Aymara language with a firm voice, one must speak directly into his ear to be heard.
"I see a bit dimly. I had good vision before. But I saw you coming,'' he tells a group of Associated Press reporters who drove from the capital, La Paz, after a local TV report about him.
Hobbling down a dirt path, Mr Flores greets them with a raised arm, smiles and sits down on a rock to chat. His gums bulge with coca leaf, a mild stimulant that staves off hunger that, like most Bolivian highlands peasants, he has been chewing all his life.
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Guinness World Records says the oldest living person verified by original proof of birth is Misao Okawa, a 115-year-old Japanese woman, while the oldest verified age on record was 122 years and 164 days: Jeanne Calment of France. She died in 1997.