Friday, 3 February 2023, 10:47
Every morning Sara Blanco gets up and looks through the papers on her tablet to keep up to date with the latest news. Then she has a look at her Instagram account to see how it's going.
This perhaps sounds like the normal routine of any influencer on digital media; but Sara is 91 years old and has lived with Parkinson's for years.
Sara's life, which has taken her from Cogeces de Íscar, the small village in Valladolid where she was born, to her current home in Marbella, has been full of adventures that she has faced "without fear".
"I've had essential tremor disorder in my hands for 40 years or more but I was diagnosed with Parkinson's around ten years ago," she tells SUR.
She has even been the face of a US Parkinson's Association, which put her photograph in its offices in Los Angeles.
It all started in the pandemic. Sara moved to LA with two of her daughters.
"There I was not fully understanding the language and they were working and so I read, but that was not enough," she recalls.
Then, a close friend of her daughters suggested they open an Instagram account. "And that's how it all started," she says.
"We started off cooking," she explains, which is where the name of the account came from: Sara_is_in_the_Kitchen.
"I posted what I was cooking every day. In the morning it was lunch and in the afternoon, fashion," she continues. "Stew, paella, croquettes and all types of casseroles," she explains. Surprisingly, what was most popular among her American audience was her garlic soup, which was even sampled by the former president of 20th Century Fox, Lawrence Gordon. And in all the videos she appeared exactly as she is, without hiding her shaking hands.
And so, what started as a bit of fun has become a life project which serves as inspiration for young and old, from whom she receives affectionate messages. She has even had one or two suitors.
At more than 90 years old she feels she is flourishing.
"I had something inside that needed to explode and I feel comfortable with all this. I feels as if I've been doing it all my life," she states. "Nothing surprises me and I'm looking forward to more," she says.
After a lifetime devoted to caring for her seven children (she had eight, but the first died prematurely of sudden death syndrome) and looking after the family businesses with her husband, now is when she is living her life.
"I have always been creative and I knew this moment would come," she explains.
Her daughters Beatriz, Belén and Sara were members of the nineties pop group Greta y los Garbo. This took her into the world of show business, as she accompanied them and supported them in their career.
Now they are supporting her in her new facet as an influencer. Sara says that everything that is happening is "a very positive experience", and even a "healing" one, according to her daughter Beatriz.
Living with her disease is not easy for her, nor is it for her family. There are regular visits to the neurologist and her medication is quite strong.
Nevertheless, Sara keeps going: "Make plans even though they'll never happen. That keeps you alive," she advises. And she practises what she preaches. Among her new ideas is the creation of a line of oils and white wine to export to the United States, publish a recipe book or make a film. But she is well aware that "I don't have so much time" and encourages her family to hurry things along.
Sara's eyes have witnessed almost a century of history packed with innovation.
"I'll adapt to anything and I want the future. I love everything new. I like the future, not the past," she says, although she stresses that her life path has been a good one.
And so she tries to encourage disheartened young people who are living in a changing world: "The first thing they have to do is study, prepare for life and not be afraid."
"They are living through a bad time but they have to be strong, keep going and face up to all the difficulties that affect all our lives, young, middle-aged and old, as the elderly also have all types of problems
"I talk like this so that you can understand that life involves overcoming everything," she adds.
"I know my illness is there, but it doesn't interrupt my life. I just tell it: slowly, slowly, give me time," she says. After all, she still has a lot to do.
She extends this message to the rest of her generation: "Go out and enjoy life. I get my walking frame and go out by myself. I go for a coffee, for a walk, do the shopping... They can do the same. Illness or no illness."
"The situation of elderly people today is a shame," she continues. "There are a lot of old people who look out from their balconies but don't go out into the street and it's such a pity. We have to get more walking frames out there. You have to go out and take part in life," she concludes.
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