I was looking forward to what Biarritz had to offer. Connecting with a fellow martial artist. Which was a close friend of mines cousin was going to be an exciting start to my time in southern France. He picked me up at the Airport and we immediately hit it off. Troy was a 35 year old Australian with a great personality and incredible outlook on life. He had spent some time in Biarritz and had all the knowledge needed to experience the place and culture in depth.
It had been 10 years since I had last been to Biarritz and lots had changed. The memories came flooding back as I roamed the streets, markets, and did my best at conversations with the small amount of french I knew. Right away I began to study the language and with each day I learned a little more.
I spent my time roaming the beaches and towns. I began to spend hours simply observing the people and the way they interacted. Their tendencies, greetings, body language, and expressions all fascinated me. It was my first opportunity outside of the country on this journey to spend hours just walking and sitting. I found I was treated differently as a foreigner but it was expected and accepted. I found with a genuine smile and a little effort to communicate they would warm up and see you were interested at viewing life from their perspective.
Traveling to the town of Bayonne was a major highlight. A old town filled with history. It radiated a way of life and culture that was captivating and gave me since of returning back in time. The Gothic church built in the 1600's was a site to see. Walking through I understood how with the architecture, art, and strategic placing of oversized statues it was easy to make a person feel so small and mortal in the house of God. The streets were filled with cafes and small shops. Bridges reached elegantly over the waterways and into the tight quarters of the next maze of alley ways. As I left Bayonne I felt blessed to have stumbled across such an old and uplifting community.
I spent days trying to connect with children's organizations in or near Biarritz with no luck. Searching for a contact that might point me in the right direction was harder than I ever imagined. So I began to observe from far and take notes on the groups of children I could find in what seemed to be beach summer programs. Again there relationships with each other and their teachers was of much interest. This was a different culture and I yearned to dive into their heads and explore how these mentors were connecting with these children.
My time in Biarritz was coming to a close and I was ready to continue the explorations. Little did I know the week to come would change my life forever...