I like to refer to SOPREN (Sociedade de Preservação dos Recursos Naturais e Culturais da Amazônia) as an example of Brazilians in action.
We had the pleasure of receiving Camilo Vianna out at Bosque Santa Lúcia in the 1980s, as I best remember it. He did not have a lot of time because I had kidnapped him from a medical conference at the Tropical Hotel (now Amazon Park Hotel), but we did walk the main trail of the Bosque. I will never forget his comment to my wife later in the day. “O Bosque tem muitas preciosidades”, he said. I took it to mean that the Bosque has a lot of precious trees. On another occasion, Áurea and I invited him out to dinner and he talked about… hunger and trees. As I opened my billfold to pay the waiter, a gentleman from a neighboring table (José Fernando dos Santos, a retired auditor from the Receita Federal, now deceased) quickly jumped up, grabbed the bill from my hand and made a short, but eloquent speech honoring the ecological attributes of Dr. Vianna. In the middle of this unexpected event, our honored guest got up from the table and disappeared. He was back a few minutes later with two big plastic bags of pitomas (Toulicia spp.), a wild fruit from this region. During the course of the speech in his honor he had seen the vendor passing by the restaurant and he left to get the fruit. Later he told me that he had an excellent germination rate from the seeds, which he planted at one of SOPREN’s nurseries outside of Belém.
Graphic: Arthur Daniel Alexander