We spent New Year’s Eve and Day for 2015 in the rural village of 坡头村中国。It was a very interesting time. We were served hot Coca-Cola with ginger in it, we could not find any way to explain to our friend why we don’t have warmer clothes, and we had 2 different elderly men sing for us.
In the village where we were the only heat source is coal burning stoves. It is very, very cold outside and the homes are not well insulated. You’re pretty much shivering all the time. The locals all had very thick clothes on especially made for such weather. They appeared to be thicker and more insulated than ski outfits. Then here we were with our blue jeans and people kept asking us why we didn’t wear warmer clothes. We explained that we don’t have warmer clothes and they thought we were insane. How do you explain to a person with no indoor plumbing and a dirt floor that we don’t usually need warmer clothes than these because our home and every where we go is heated? The only time we’re out in the extreme cold is going quickly from one place to another. But out there it’s cold everywhere all winter.
We are the first foreigners to have ever visited this village and everyone came to see us! It was almost like we were circus freaks more so than honored guests. We do have enough culture to know to bring a gift when going to someone’s home but our gift paled in comparison to what they gave us. The owner of the house we stayed in, our friend, gave us some of his hand drawn artwork and some old family photos, while a friend of his that’s an art teacher sculpted us little figurines and fired them during the day returning to the house in the evening to send us home with them. Our tin of chocolates was looking less and less like a worthy gift as time went on.
There was a never ending revolving “door” which is really just a blanket hanging over a threshold of people wanting to meet us. It was special but tiring.