Luo claims to have been born in September of 1885, but "proof" of her age is practically impossible to verify. Birth certificates didn't became commonplace in this area until after the 1949 Communist takeover. A faded copy of her state issued identity card is the only evidence that Luo is the age she says she is.
She was a bit cranky today when we met, initially refusing to let me take any photographs, so we decided to just talk for a while. Ms Luo is a member of the Yao Nationality and she speaks no Mandarin. The conversation went from me to Lilly to a great-grandson to a daughter-in-law to Ms. Luo... and then back. She took my hand at one point and then threw it aside, saying I was very fat! She warmed up after a while and finally consented to letting me take a few shots.
I learned later that during the Chinese New Year holiday she'd had many visitors and was tiring of the attention. So many visitors says a lot about her appeal, since it was a two hour journey over rutted muddy roads to get to Bamai. I was staying in Bama County in the middle of nowhere... she lives on the outskirts of nowhere.
If Luo really is 127 she's not only the world's oldest living person — she's the world's oldest person ever recorded. The previous record-holder, Jeannie Calment of France, died in 1997 at 122.
Billed as Longevity Paradise, Bama County in Northern Guangxi Province is home to more than 80 people over the age of 100...