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Published: September 3rd 2019
This morning we left Refugio Amazonas early and spotted an aguti just as we were leaving. They are rodents, about the size of a domestic cat, and are very important to Brazil nut production because they have very sharp teeth and are the only animals that can open the big nuts that hold the seeds we call Brazil nuts. They eat them but, like squirrels, like to save some for later so they bury them in individual holes. They frequently forget where they have buried them, thereby planting more Brazil nut trees. Actually I think they should be called Bolivian nuts as 60% of the production is in Bolivia but Brazil nuts are a very important part of the local economy in Brazil and Peru too. In Puerto Maldonado, the Brazil nut industry is second only to mining. It's tragic how much mining and forestry goes on in the Amazon. It needs to be replaced by tourism, a win-win industry which, if practiced with ecological sensitivity as it is here, benefits everybody and spreads wealth from rich countries to poorer places.
I was sorry to leave the Amazon, which has been beautiful and relaxing but it's nice to feel clean: in that humidity one never does.
We took the boat back down the river and the bus back to Puerto Maldonado for our flight to Lima for the last chapter of our holiday. Lima is a huge, dusty, smoggy city of almost 10 million people and certainly not attractive at first glance. The traffic is appalling and quite lawless.
We took a walk down to the Malecón, the promenade along the Pacific Coast. The beaches are unimpressive but there is a lovely little park called Parque de Amor, with a massive central sculpture called The Kiss by Victor Delfin which I really liked. The Park is bordered by mosaics with quotations about love and is apparently the place to go for young couples. There is quite a lot of public art around Miraflores, the upmarket area where we are staying, and a few other nice green spots, including a park named after John F Kennedy, who apparently provided generous foreign aid to. Peru. Among the Malecón, we were delighted to find the Paddington Bear statue. Paddington is apparently the only fictional character to have statues in his honour in two world capitals. Yes, we took a photo!
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