Neurotic in paradise: Capitalist hangover on a ‘red’ Greek island

by | Sep 16, 2022 | World

It was some years ago during a brutal winter in Bosnia that I first learned of the existence of the remote Greek island of Ikaria. Prior to the pandemic, Sarajevo was one of my regular stops as I pursued a life of frenzied international itinerance, eschewing a fixed residence and, more importantly, avoiding my execrable country of birth, the United States.On this particular visit to subzero Sarajevo, I alternated between falling on ice outdoors and sitting in my apartment looking at pictures of summertime scenes on the internet. And it was on account of the latter pastime that Ikaria entered my consciousness, via a spate of articles extolling the island’s rugged beauty and the extraordinary longevity of its inhabitants.
A Guardian dispatch from 2013, for example, starred 100-year-old Gregoris Tsahas, who enjoyed a pack of cigarettes and more than a few glasses of red wine per day, trekked four hilly kilometres between his home and his regular café, and had never once been sick minus a bout of appendicitis.
A 2012 New York Times Magazine essay relayed the story of Stamatis Moraitis, who was either 97 or 102 years old, and who had returned to his native Ikaria from the US in the 1970s after being diagnosed with cancer. He recovered with no sort of treatment aside from gardening, winemaking and playing dominoes past midnight with friends — and proceeded to outlive all his American doctors.
No one has pinpointed the precise secret to Ikarian endurance, but it appears to involve a co …

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