Where I Live: Blue Zone and Earthquake Prone

Nicoya Peninsula seen from space (false color)

Nicoya Peninsula seen from space (false color) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s a couple of facts about where I live.  I am going to live longer than I should, and I’m going to get my aging body shook around way more than it should be shaken.

BLUE ZONE: This is a brief view of where I chose to live – the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica, the largest “Blue Zone” in the world.  Blue Zones are areas, defined by demographics and/or geographics, where the residents live not only longer lives, but healthier long lives.  The National Geographic Society has been identifying and researching these areas for years, and have come up with a few reasons why people who live in such areas seem to not only live to more advanced ages, but do their aging well.  And, it’s not like the people who live in these Blue Zones are superhuman, or anything.  Something called the Danish Twin Study has established that longevity of life and overall health are 25 percent decided by genetics, and 75 percent decided by lifestyle.  I know more about the Nicoya Peninsula, so that’s what I’ll write about here.

The Nicoya Peninsula is an 80 mile-long finger of land that run south of Nicaragua, and is almost separated from the rest of Costa Rica.  Someone who reaches the age of 60 living on the Nicoya Peninsula has twice the chance of seeing 90 as do Americans, French, Italians, or even Japanese.

Costa Ricans invest approximately 15 percent of what the United States does on health care.  Though some people and organizations have tried, it’s really impossible to quantify how much healthier and happier people are in Costa Rica compared to the United States, so you’ll have to take my un-scientific opinion.  I have traveled and lived in most areas of both countries, and Europe, and as objectively as I can be about what I’ve seen and experienced, most Costa Ricans are so much healthier and happier than most U.S. citizens, and many Europeans.

Several of the observations of researcher Dan Buettner and the National Geographic Society team investigating Blue Zones suggest reasons why people live longer and healthier lives in these areas.

People who live on the Nicoya Peninsula sleep an average of eight hours a night.  They eat healthy foods.  They are family oriented.  Most of them get plenty of physical exercise, either through work, recreation, or the daily routine of living.

I sleep longer since I’ve moved here than I did in the United States or Europe.  I wake up when the sun comes up, take a siesta in the afternoon, and am usually shutting down when the sun goes down, and go to sleep when the feeling hits me.  I eat like a local -fresh fruits and vegetables every day -not bio-engineered to look pretty on display at the mega-super-duper-maket – along with beans, rice, plantains, and fish are staples.  And, that fish.  My fish guy brings fish to my apartment building once or twice a week – fresh off the boat…no high mercury levels like that color-injected crap found in industrialized nations.  I exercise more, swimming in the ocean…walking the beach…walking everywhere,  since I don’t own a car.

The result of all this change in lifestyle:  I had clumps of fat building up under my skin in hard little balls when I came here, now they’re gone, as well as about twenty pounds of fat.  I’ve had to buy new clothes, since my pants were literally sliding off my skinny ass if I stood still and wasn’t holding them by the belt loops.  My wife and I have cut out 90 percent of the medications we were taking for high blood pressure, anxiety, pain, and other lifestyle-related problems.  My wife weighed 186 pounds when I met her, now she weighs a healthy 122 pounds.  She comments now and again on muscles in her arms, legs and stomach area she hasn’t seen for a decade or two – we’re both around 50 years-old.

EARTHQUAKE ZONE:  I also chose to live in the most seismically active area of the world, but not on purpose…although it is kind of interesting to feel the earth shaking regularly…reminding me how small and delicate I am, living in a big world that could knock me off my feet at any moment.  This makes sense, since I live right where the Pacific Plate is trying to push its way underneath the Cocos Plate.  I find the name Cocos Plate kind of ironic since “cocos” means coconuts in Spanish, which is what most of the dogs and many of the people here do when a quake hits – go coconuts ! ! !

rican quakesAccording to the Costa Rican Volcanology and Seismology Observatory (OVSICORI) there has been more earthquake activity since the September 5th rock-and-roller than there has been in 62 years.  The first big one in September was a 7.6 magnitude, second in power only to the 7.8 magnitude in 1950.  And, they also guestimated that only 40 percent of the stress from the two tectonic plates rubbing together was relieved by that quake !

Now, don’t go thinking I or anyone else who lives here is coconuts.  These quakes happen so regularly that it is hardly worth mention.  There are two different Spanish words for “seismic events” here; “temblors” are the little jolts that wake people up or make the power flicker, and “terremotos” are the ones that knock stuff off the shelves and leave cracks in concrete walls.  There are cracks in most concrete walls here.  Most of these “seismic events” happen without notice.  Here’s the low-down on the numbers for the past three years:

20106,245 earthquakes: that’s 17.1 per day

20115,483 earthquakes: that’s 15.02 per day

201211,049 earthquakes: thats 30.27 per day


Pura Vida, as they say down here.

(And, it’s only called “down” here because people from the northern hemisphere were more advanced at the art of map-making when maps, globes, and commonly held opinions were being developed…did you ever think of that?  Why not turn all the maps upside down?)




28 thoughts on “Where I Live: Blue Zone and Earthquake Prone

  1. shimmyshark says:

    Still working for you?
    On my Way…

  2. shimmyshark says:

    Reblogged this on shimmy-shark and commented:
    Just love this…the shaking of the earth promotes longetivity. What else could it be? Lifestyles? Too many crabby, mean, two-pack-a-day smokers live to be too old, if you ask me. Enjoy.
    On my Way…

  3. mrs fringe says:

    What, you weren’t sure I was jealous enough? Pbbt, I don’t think envy is doing much for my lifespan. I had been dreaming about Bora Bora, but maybe Costa Rica is is what I should be dreaming of. The thought of earthquakes don’t freak me out–at least, not enough to override my thrill at the thought of regular sleep.

  4. B Gourley says:

    Maybe Buettner should investigate the effects of earthquake on longevity. Maybe quakes firm and tone like those old machines from the 1950s. The ones that had a belt that went around one’s back and then the machine shook one rapidly and violently.

    • coyotero2112 says:

      By Jove, Gourley…I think you’re onto something. I’m getting that hack on the horn right now and straighten him out. 1950s jiggle belts…why didn’t I think of that?

  5. Man! I wish I lived there!!!! I live in one of the worse places to be in the coming months / years – large inner city – New York. I am happy for you and your wife. I think of a scene from the Wizard of Oz when Toto jumps out of the witches bicycle basket and Dorothy says, “He got away! He got away!” — Y’all got away! PEACE-

    • coyotero2112 says:

      You got it ! From inner city Cleveland – hell on earth – to a tropical beach in Costa Rica – I would call that an upgrade. Must be all those frequent flyer miles I acquired for teaching the un-teachable – writing – to those who didn’t want to be taught.

  6. I have lifestyle envy. I had never heard of the Blue Zone before – shame on me! Not so sure about the constant tremors though. When I’ve been on a boat, I get the so called mal de debarquement, meaning that I still feel the boat move several days, sometimes weeks after I’ve left it. I wonder if I’d be constantly lurching around. Still, a small price to pay for fish fresh off the boat and living to the rhythm of the sun.

    • coyotero2112 says:

      Blue Zones, kind of a new thing. Costa Rica, kind of a living situation to be envied – I did…now I’m here. Earthquakes, most of them are so subtle only dogs notice them. The big ones, you just hang on, then go about your business. You’d be fine…beats Old Smoke in the winter.

  7. jannatwrites says:

    This was an interesting post for several reasons (not the least of which, I learned a few things.) I had not heard of the blue zone and the longevity. I imagine the more natural lifestyle is healthier and is a big contributor to health (and weight loss :)) It’s the middle aisles in the grocery store that get us. I think the earthquakes might contribute to a heart condition in me, though. In 1992, I was in Southern CA with friends when an earthquake happened. Woke me up and freaked me out. The aftershocks weren’t fun either – I tripped several times. I suppose one gets used to it, though!

    • coyotero2112 says:

      Blue Zones, a developing story thanks to National Geographic. I grew up in Washington and Alaska, and lived in Cali…quakes are nothing new…you’d be fine once you started thinking of them as a carnival ride. How wonderful to have you visit…The Philosopher Red was asking about you !

  8. jerwayne2013 says:

    I believe longevity is fairly common in most places where inhabitants aren’t under daily stress & who eat only a very healthy diet consisting of fresh fruits & vegetable not grown with pesticides. That Blue Zone sounds very interesting & I had no idea that a country could have that many earthquakes in one year. I would say that there is a whole lot of shaking going on in Costa Rica..tehe Awesome & very interesting read.

  9. 30.27 a day! the myth-boy in me becomes curious if the indigenous culture to Costa Rica had any earthquake deities, since with that many shifting plates and rumbling ground you’d think someone would have come up with a really interesting god to justify all the vibrations. Cheers!

    • coyotero2112 says:

      Most of them are “seismic events” that are so subtle they can’t be felt, although the dogs all go off at once too often. But, there’s enough times when I’m walking and the ground shifts, or laying bed reading and get an “Exorcist” moment, with something that feels like shake-shake-shake, and done. I think people here are (and may have been) so used to the earth moving it seemed normal, not something attributed to a higher power or cosmic force. Good question, though. Turtles are the protector gods here…never heard anything about quakes.

  10. Interesting stuff on Blue Zones…my first exposure to that concept…sounds like the place to be!!

  11. shimmyshark says:

    Thanks…Blue me away, you did.

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