I’ve met ladies in their late 80-s who have visited Bhutan, but this is apparently the eldest tourist yet: a 101-year old from Bavaria. Here she is lighting butter lamps, and below is the story from Kuensel where she shares her secrets to a long life.
14 July, 2011 – Despite living near the river Danube, Eleonora Kastner never learned to swim because the water scared her. Her two sisters warned her experience of the world would be less if she did not overcome her fear.
Yesterday, Eleonora became the oldest tourist to visit Bhutan when she arrived in Paro. She continues to experience the world, despite never learning to swim. Eleonora is 101 years old.
“I’m old but I’m healthy,” she said through a translator. “I’m lucky I can still travel,” she said, as she sipped her coffee, unassisted.
Born in 1910, in the kingdom of Bavaria, now a state of Germany, Eleonora said that Bhutan reminded her of her birthplace. The geography of the state is similar to Bhutan, as the Alps mountain range defines eastern Bavaria.
Eleonora was invited to the country by the tourism council of Bhutan upon her 100th birth anniversary. She is accompanied by a grandson, who has worked with the tourism council. Her family now includes five living generations.
“Think positive,” Eleonora said, on whether she had any tips to live up to and beyond 100. “And don’t always think about yourself.” She also attributed her long life to “telling the truth” and not drinking too much alcohol. A few seconds later, she added, “you can lie sometimes,” and said she enjoyed sweet liquor and lemonade.
Eleonora also said that she never smoked. But she said that she did not mind other people smoking, as long as they did not smoke in the room she is in.
“Accept others for who they are, no one person will know everything, everyone is important, and people are different,” she said, on what values she had gained and would pass on to younger people. She also said that everyone must have the right to make decisions. “You have the choice to say yes or no.”
Eleonora is a devout Christian, but that d
id not stop her from praying at a Buddhist altar in Paro. “It doesn’t matter if you live by a different religion,” she said. “You have to be open to contact.” She added, “Every human has a warm heart, so you should think warmly of others.”
Eleonora has lived through two world wars. Her father and husband both served in the German army during the wars. She recalled that the second world war was a “bad and hard time” for the people of Germany. She said that, like her, there were many women left with their children, and that food was scarce. She constantly prayed for the safe return of her father and husband.
Today, Eleonora, while not travelling the world, spends her time playing chess and other memory games to keep her mind sharp. She also does some physical exercise twice a week. She said she also enjoys watching sports on television. Eleonora has travelled extensively in Europe, and visited countries in the Americas and Asia.
She will be in Bhutan for two weeks, and meets with the prime minister today. “I like it when people smile, it’s good for the heart,” she said.
By Gyalsten K Dorji