ikaria 1

The Secrets of Ikaria



cards hearing work hard
God elderly digest (2)
dig require full of energy
mere tavern rheumatism
bother zucchini property (2)
recipe take care medicinal
local fry/fried it doesn’t matter
sting leisurely fashion (2)
air get along pressure (2)
rush serenity ingredient
alike keep up longevity
mass spare (2) mass tourism





Nikolas Spais can still beat his son at cards. He is turning 100 this year, and although his hearing is bad, he has no other health problems.

He says he knows why people here live so long: “Because God loves us.”

Visitors to Ikaria will notice lots of elderly and some very elderly people living here. A generation still very much on its toes and full of energy.

Kristos Paras: “I’ve always worked hard: digging up the garden, moving around a lot.

Kristos Paras still does a lot of walking. He lives on his own and does everything without help.

He says a long life requires good food: “goat’s milk…fish…cheese…beans…and all the things I grow: lettuce…herbs.”

Compared to Kristos, 83 year old Yurgos Karusto is a mere youngster.

He is one of the many beekeepers that produce the local honey. He says the bee stings don’t bother him. In fact he claims, they’re good against rheumatism.

He sells the honey to tavern owners like Thea. She says the honey has medicinal properties.

Thea: “This is our springtime honey. And we call this anamatomelo. When you wake up in the morning, you have one spoonful and it cleans out all your digestive system. It’s very good. It’s very medicinal. And it’s also very good for people who have diabetes.”

Everybody here has a recipe for a long life.

Thea’s tavern offers traditional food: with a little meat and a lot of local vegetables, both in summer and in winter.

Thea: “There’s different things that people do when they have a lot of zucchini: they put it out in the sun to dry and they have dried zucchini in the winter, which is very nice fried.”

“So yes, I think the traditions are being continued.”

Silke Wagner, a German, left her job twelve years ago to marry on Ikaria.

Now she raises goats and makes cheese. Like the locals, she drinks a glass of goat’s milk every day.
Is that especially healthy?
Silke: “It seems to be. I think goat’s milk is the next best thing to sheep’s milk.

Everyone here agrees that traditional eating habits here are important for a long life.

Sideris has another explanation: The island’s beautiful women.
Silke: “He says the beautiful women make for a long life.”

Athena and Nikolaus are family members: he is 97; she is 93. Athena still takes care of the household. She cooks and cleans with her daughter’s help.

Nikolaus normally does the shopping. But today it’s a bit too hot for him.

The two start the day in a leisurely fashion.

Athena: “Slowly, slowly. We don’t get as stressed as in the cities. There you’re constantly under pressure. You never get any peace and quiet.”

“We always told stories when we were working. We’d sit and eat together: dried fruit in the wintertime. And we’d laugh together. We weren’t rushed in any way.”

Nikolaus: “The clean air on the island does us a lot of good. And the fact that I’ve always got along with my wife.”

A love of life and serenity. The islanders say these are important ingredients for a longevity.

Ikaria has been spared the negative effects of mass tourism. The people here have kept up their traditions.

And they have one golden rule: “So if you don’t finish it today, it doesn’t really matter. That’s why God gave us tomorrow. So we have tomorrow to finish it.”

And tomorrow is another day to be enjoyed by young and old alike.


*     *     *     *     *     *     *


1. What is unique or special about Ikaria?

2. The people spend most of their time watching TV. True or false?

3. Are bees important to the island? If yes, how are bees important?

4. Do the people like hamburgers and hot dogs?

5. Who is the German woman? What is her story?

6. Lifestyles in Ikaria and in cities (such as Athens) are the same. Is this correct or wrong? What are the differences between Ikaria and Athens?

7. Do the people get along or do they fight each other?
A. Are there parts of your country where people live long? Describe their lifestyle.

B. Do you know people who are very old? What is their secret?

C. I would like to live on Ikaria. Yes or no? Would you like to visit Ikaria?

D. Are reports, books, magazines, TV shows and expert talks about health popular?

E. What may happen in the future?

Comments are closed.