SACABA, Bolivia — Julia Flores Colque still sings with joy in her indigenous Quechua tongue and strums the five strings of a tiny Andean guitar known as the charango, despite a recorded age of almost 118 years. In her long life, she has witnessed two world wars, revolutions in her native Bolivia and the transformation of her rural town of Sacaba from 3,000 people to a bustling city of more than 175,000 in five decades.
Her national identity card says Flores Colque was born on Oct. 26, 1900, in a mining camp in the Bolivian mountains. At 117 and just over 10 months, she would be the oldest woman in the Andean nation and perhaps the oldest living person in the world.
But a spokeswoman for Guinness World Records says she’s not aware of receiving any application for her and Flores Colque doesn’t seem to care that her record hasn’t been confirmed. She hasn’t even heard of the reference book.
These days, she enjoys the company of her dogs, cats and rooster. She is lucid and full of life, and she loves a good cake and singing folkloric songs in Quechua to anyone who comes to visit the dirt-floor adobe home she shares with her 65-year-old grandniece.