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: and that, friends, is 30.27 per day…yes, I said 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 made up…did you ever think of that?  Why not turn all the maps upside down?)


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

  1. bluebrightly says:

    Somehow I missed that you live in Costa Rica. I have not done much international traveling (things get in the way) but I did spend a few weeks there about 10 yrs ago. I wandered around San Jose a bit, then took a bus down the spine of the country to a quiet retreat in the highlands, sort of near San Isidro. Then I spent a week in Puerto Jimenez, near the Corcovado Rainforest, which was a bit like a wild west town then. I loved the culture, the coffee, the flora, & the people of course. So anyway, I’ll have to pay better attention to anything you say about where you are – oh how I’d love to go back!

    • coyotero2112 says:

      I’d wait until mid-November when it the wet season stops. The tropical downpours can be fun if you live here, but if you’re paying boucoup bucks to visit, and all you can do is sit inside and watch the red-mud rivers run down the streets…

  2. monosolo says:

    You’ve got to be making this up. I live in a blue zone, but my Dr. gave me medication for it, so I’m sure it will all turn out for the better.

  3. krees67 says:

    I missed this post! Costa Rica! I hear it is gorgeous down there!

    • coyotero2112 says:

      Small country with a hot, humid, Caribbean coast, a central valley of mountains and live volcanoes, and the Pacific coast where I live which is like Southern California. I’ve driven across the country in less than a day, experiencing all three distinct climates. Whatever you want is here. And, you can drink the water !

  4. dbubble12 says:

    Now that I have learnt about the “Blue Zones” of the world; I’m going to suggest to my husband that we visit regularly or retire in one. This is the lifestyle that we thrive in and the way we prefer to familiarize or experience each destination we travel to. Great geography and food for thought. Let’s drink some coconut water to seeing you and your wife walking the beach in your 90 year old skin! Cheers!

  5. Interesting! What is the life expectancy in Costa Ricas ‘Blue Zone*?
    Been hunting the Costa Rican flag for some time, but in spite of several contacts in CR they don’t seem to register . . .
    Now that you have visited my blog, perhaps I get a new chance?!

    • coyotero2112 says:

      I’ll put a bandera de Costa Rica in a post today. Internet is spotty…just paid the bill, and service always suffers for a while. Was trying to comment on one of your posts…my frandfather was from some place called Vaage in the Gulbrandal (?). All the Danes and the Indian in my family found him “intersting” to put it nicely. Good to have some Norsk input on this page.

    • coyotero2112 says:

      Life expectancy…a bit was included in post, but from my personal experience of living here, besides the fact of living a little longer, people are more vital in their old age…see 80 and 90-something aged people out walking the beach – and loose sand is exercise – and working as best they can in yards, etc. Sending a post off right now about flag and some perceptions of my new country. Did you mean you wanted one, or more info on the history? Mail here is non-existant, especially where I live, at the end of the line/world. One guy in an aged post office who sleeps a lot. There are no addresses here…so private mail boxes are the only way, and they’re all full up, only available in January when the accounts of the deceased or those who have moved on are open for rental. Watch for post…it’s basically for you…then I’m going to take it down, unless I can come up with something interesting to say to go along with it.

    • coyotero2112 says:

      Post is up. The time lag is explained in the post…and edge of the World/Word experience.

  6. shimmyshark says:

    Too Cool !
    On my way…

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