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05 June 2007

Before Spain, A Little France

On my way to Spain I made a stop to see my brother and sister in law and their two sons, Mitch and Nils. They live in the middle of Les Landes, a big area south of Bordeaux which is actually nothing more than hundreds of acres of pine trees (some corn is grown on this land as well).

Napoleon used to give pieces of this poor land to officers of his army as a reward for their loyalty. This way he hoped that the land eventually would become useful. For many years it housed shepherds and small farmers. The trees that are there now live off the water in the swamp (which was why they were planted in the first place) and are now used by the paper industry. The last few years flower bulb growers (mostly from Holland) have come to buy the land because it seems to be good for their business.

Ironically, there are huge brush fires every year now because of the lack of water. The local airfields house numerous yellow firefighter planes. The one in the photograph is a model that was put up in the middle of a roundabout.

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