Carmelo Flores Laura may be the oldest living person ever documented, if Bolivia’s public records are correct.
They say he turned 123 a month ago.
The native Aymara lives in a straw-roofed dirt-floor hut in an isolated hamlet near Lake Titicaca at 13,100 feet, is illiterate, speaks no Spanish and has no teeth, according to CBS News.
He walks without a cane and doesn’t wear glasses. And though he speaks Aymara with a firm voice, one must talk into his ear to be heard.
“I see a bit dimly. I had good vision before. But I saw you coming,” he tells Associated Press journalists who visit after a local TV report touts him as the world’s oldest person.
Hobbling down a dirt path, Flores greets them with a raised arm, smiles and sits down on a rock. His gums bulge with coca leaf, a mild stimulant that staves off hunger. Like most Bolivian highlands peasants, he has been chewing it all his life.
Guinness World Records says the oldest living person verified by original proof of birth is Misao Okawa, a 115-year-old Japanese woman. The verified world’s oldest man is Salustiano Sanchez-Blazquez, who lives in western New York state. The oldest verified age was 122 years and 164 days: Jeanne Calment of France, who died in 1997.