Today is a big holiday in Uppsala. There will be tens of thousands of people out partying in the streets. But since I'm not there I thought I'd celebrate it my own way. So instead of having champagne for breakfast and lunch with pickled herring (Swedish specialty) with friends I went to one of the restaurants by les Halles here in Biarritz. I really love that place! So many nice bars and restaurants.
And the great thing about sleeping on someone's sofa bed for 20 Euro per night is that you get more money to spend on food. I had foie gras and then Spanish blood sausage with grilled scallops and a glass of champagne. Yes, it was delicious!
Anyway, I was about to finish my coffee when an old woman, I'm guessing 80+, in a modern, blond haircut and a very short yellow dress, asks me if she can join me. Sure. And she starts talking. Luckily she doesn't seem to expect me to say much, since I don't understand all of it.
"Oh, those phones are nice (pointing to my iPhone). I hope it's ok I sit here, I see you're drinking coffee, so I thought it would be ok to ask. I will have the grilled duck liver, it's their specialty here. When you're my age and see your friends die... I think I should have some fun for them too. I went to Bar Jean yesterday and had half a dozen of oysters for 6 Euros. And two sea urchins, one of them was not so good, but the other one was. And a glass of nice wine too.
I usually don't wear this dress, but I have these very modern shoes, and I think it goes well with them. (She shows me her sneakers with cartoons on them, and I tell her I think they look cool and goes well with the dress.) And I don't wear any stockings today to get some tan."
She asks me what I do. I say journalist, which I usually do when I don't know how to explain what I really do. She's an artist, a photographer and a painter. And she starts searching for photos to show me in her phone. A painting of flowers in a vase. But mostly photos of the sea in Biarritz.
"Ça change toujours." I've heard other people say this too. And after spending more than a hundred days looking at the sea here I know it's true, the ocean and the sky always changes. It never looks the same. The clouds, the wind, everything. She shows me one picture where the water has a vivid emerald green colour. The sunlight and the small screen on the phone makes it hard to see the beauty I'm sure is there.
"See, that's where I live, in the house by the sea. Very good place for taking photos. You see that rock in the picture? Picasso made a painting of it, it's famous. It's also a nice place there, at the beach by the casino to have a coffee.
I used to be pretty famous. I had an exhibition that traveled the US, state by state, for four years. And I've had exhibitions in Paris too."
Finally her duck liver arrives. It looks delicious and she seems to really enjoy it. I think it's time for me to leave. "Would you like my phone number?" Well, why not? I'm not sure I get it right. And what was her name? Marie Isabelle? "Just send me a text message if you want to meet up."