An Even Better Brazil Nut Story

As if the last post about Brazil nuts wasn't interesting enough, Michael Nee in Wisconsin sent me a colorful follow-up of his own experience in collecting and studying Brazil nuts in their native habitat.
Chuck, 
I enjoyed the video on the Brazil nuts. 
Here is a picture from a production area in the rain forest along the Rio Madre de Dios in northern Bolivia. The shed was full of Brazil nuts collected in the forest and were waiting to be loaded on a boat to go on their way to being exported. Every day the owner of the pigs would scoop out another bunch of nuts for these porkers. They say that a pig on a diet of Brazil nuts results in lard that remains liquid and won't harden.

Since no one was around these isolated sheds on the banks of the Rio Madre de Dios, we would help ourselves to a few handfuls to snack on while we were travelling up- or downstream in our boat during the month-long expedition here in northern Bolivia. 
When we got back to Riberalta, our base, the political situation had deteriorated even more. This was in 1985 during the time of 25,000% inflation per year. It got to the point where the largest bill was the Bolivian 10,000,000 peso note--worth about 5 U.S. dollars.
In any case, there was no way of getting any money when we got back to Riberalta since all the banks were on strike, and this was long before the times of ATM machines (which by the way, since last year have been blocked for U.S. credit or debit cards). In fact, nearly everything in Bolivia was either on strike or the roads blockaded. But this was irrelevant in Riberalta since at that time there was no road to the rest of Bolivia, and we were really anxious to wind up the trip and get back to La Paz--the Bolivians being an ornithologist, a botanist, an ichthyologist, two geologists from various institutions in La Paz, two geologists from Los Angeles, and myself.
We had return tickets on the national airline, but the flights were getting irregular, and sometimes would be cancelled, and sometimes would land, load up passengers, then announce that they weren't flying. Our money was getting so low we couldn't afford the modest hotel, so we found an abandoned house and camped out in there. At one point we had to make a decision to cash in our tickets, and get tickets on the military airline, which was still functioning. We also did not have enough money to eat, so near the end we were living off our bags of Brazil nuts!
Well, eventually the military airplane arrived, and we got back to La Paz. The Bolivians disappeared immediately to get back to their homes. The geologists and I pooled together our last money and had enough to get a slice of pizza each.

Whew...great story, Michael. All you need is a beautiful native woman who leads you through the jungle, and who gets shot by banditos as she's running and reaching out to join you on the departing plane, and you have a great movie.

Unfortunately, you can't make this stuff up, folks. Way to Go Wood, Michael.

P.S. For another of Michaels' great reminiscences, check out this post from about three years ago...




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