Madre de Dios is one of the twenty-four states of Peru. Located southeast of the country, in the Amazon Rainforest, it is the third largest and least populated state. It’s here, where all the necessary conditions for the growth of the Castaño Tree are given, the same tree that provides a dry fruit that we all know as Brazil Nut.
We took a flight from Lima to Puerto Maldonado, capital of Madre de Dios. Reynaldo was waiting for us, our collaborator and the main person in charge of the whole operation that involves this incredible fruit. It was Wednesday night, so we went to the hotel to rest and recharge some energy.
The next day, we woke up very early. Reynaldo was already waiting for us in an old Chevrolet, we were heading to Mavila, a town 1:00 hour north of Puerto Maldonado. We arrived to a small house, where Lino lives. A Barrica Nut Collector that has more than 45 years of experience. He told us that once a year, during the months of December to March, he goes into the jungle with a group of companions. The objective is only one, find as many Castaño Trees as possible. This tree drops some coconuts that at the inside have Barrica Nuts. We asked Lino, what exactly is Barrica Nut? and he quickly showed us small samples that he had at home. It is the same Brazil Nut, but wrapped in a natural shell. Lino, like other Barriqueros in Madre de Dios, seeks to collect the largest amount of Barrica Nuts and then sell them to processing companies.
After listening Lino’s experience, we went into the jungle. All together, including Lino, we start a 1:00 hour journey on motorcycle. Far away, we started to see some Castaño Trees. Recognizable by its large size, between 50 to 60 meters height. After the motorcycle ride ends, we started walking on roads. These are roads improvised by the same Barriqueros that, followed by long hours, reach the best Castaño Trees.
It’s amazing, how in the middle of the jungle, Lino could guide us without losing any location. After 30 minutes, we found our first Castaño Tree. As we approached, we were able to observe large quantities of cut coconuts (the same ones that Lino cut the last harvest season). We continued walking and as we entered the jungle, the Castaño trees began to appear more frequently. It was after walking for 2:00 hours that we came across the biggest Castaño Tree that we could see, it had approximately 60 meters high. It was here where Lino wanted to bring us. He wanted to convey the same feeling that surrounds him, that voice that makes him reflect on how important nature is. A gift that must be taken responsibly. Really wonderful.