straw hat grannies

Zhouzhuang village, Zhecheng county, Henan province, April 2013

All the elderly women we saw were carrying bundles of straw and deftly weaving the strands into long plaits that they told me would become hats. And by ‘told’, I really mean ‘gestured.’ Their village dialect was incredibly thick, so much so that even the Shanghai native in our group had difficulty discerning what they were saying.

I asked this woman how much the finished hat would cost. “1.80 RMB*.”

Out of habit (comparison shopping and haggling are two things that a savvy shopper in China always does), I asked the next woman I encountered. She looked up at my clearly out-of-town self, grinned, then cheerfully replied: “2 RMB.”

*1 USD = 6.12 RMB (for now, at least)

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