The 100 / #87: Elena Rojas

#87 Elena Rojas Valparaíso, Chile

About Elena

Tell us a little about yourself
I am an 87 year-old woman, twice a widow, living in Valparaíso, Chile. I live in a building that’s over a 100 years old and I climb over 70 steps to get to my apartment each time I go out. I have a pet poodle named Chumita and I love doing arts and crafts, mainly knitted pieces of clothing and other decorative objects. I’ve taught classes in medicinal plants, and taken more than 50 courses in a variety of subjects, including modeling, cosmetology, hydroponics, embroidery, leadership, dance, facial massage, and languages such as English and German. I’d take my grandson to most of these classes because he’d be quiet and he’d correct me when I’d make a mistake, so he learned a lot of these things as well. I’ve also appeared as an extra in film and television.

What one thing are you most proud of in your years so far?
I am proud of a herbal ointment I make and sell which has helped a lot of people treat common skin afflictions with great results.

What one thing do you hope to have achieved by the age of 100?
I would like to travel to Spain and Germany, because in the 60′s I wasn’t allowed out of the country without my husband. I know that because of my age I will probably not get to do this, but I am content to watch travel shows on television and learn new things without having to leave my home.

What one thing have you seen in your lifetime which has changed the world the most significantly?
I have seen three earthquakes: the 9.5 degree 1960 Valdivia earthquake, the one in 1985 which destroyed most of the city of Valparaíso and the recent 2010 earthquake and tsunami.

What piece of advice would you give to your 10 year old self?
I would advise myself to study a career so I could become a professional and have a regular office job like I always dreamed, because I didn’t have a father who could guide me in my career choices. Instead I was left to care for my brothers and sisters and that’s how I developed my strong character.

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