As in: This is “it.”

What I know about Alto Paraíso de Goiás after a week:

About 8,000 inhabitants municipality wide.  Settled by slave-holding colonizers in the 1750s, officially declared a city in 1953.  Just over 2 hours (220 kilometers) outside of the capital Brasilia.  Situated in the Chapada dos Veadeiros (Dear Hound’s Plateau), which sits on one of the most luminous regions on the planet, seen from space, thanks to the extensive conglomerates of quartz crystals, created from the fusion of two tectonic plates over a billion years ago.  About 3,900 feet above sea level.  Highest plateau region in Brazil.  An ecological sanctuary that borders  an extensive national park of approximately 160,000 acres. The headwaters of the Amazon and São Francisco rivers.  Rivers and springs fed by subterranean aqueducts.  On the 14th parallel – the same latitude as the Machu Picchu ruins in Peru.

Crystals from this region were exploited intensively by German and American interests in the 1920s and 30s for use by the military machine in wartime communication. Mystics began settling in the area in the 1950s and 60s.  In the 1970s a well-known spiritualist, Saint Germain, located here, drawing caravans of hundreds of followers seeking consultations.  This exposure, along with the abundance of crystals intensified the creation of intentional and spiritual communities in the area, drawing an estimated 40 different esoteric groups to the town/region over the years.  Just out of town is a UFO airport nearby constructed by wealthy former resident. Had its share of mystics, hippies and charlatans over the years.  “Alternative” communities that grew over the 80s and 90s began decline though, when the world didn’t end as expected in 1998 or the year 2000.

Too many mangos falling from the trees to eat, so the birds and the bugs get more than their share… pity.  Several restaurants (in a town of 8,000 mind you) offering organic vegetarian fare.  Farmer’s market Tuesdays and Saturdays held beside town hall offers organic milk, cheese, eggs, and local produce as well as natural medicines, jellies, jams, and baked goods.

Wild parrots hang out and swoop around above you on your way back in the rain after you go swimming in the waterfall drop pools outside of town.  Monkeys take the bananas you leave on the stone wall in the garden. Toucans live in the tree next door. Dogs here are friendly, even the guard dogs lick you.

Somebody blasts Sertanejo (Brazilian country) music until what seems like 3 am on Saturdays for what’s probably a good dance party.  A faint reggae beat steadies most of the days.

Eco-tourism’s the biggest industry here now.  Movement is slow but steady.  Benefits mostly a handful of transplants who bought up land for adventure tours and built pousadas (small hotels/guest houses).   They hope to see this industry take off in the near future so they can make good on their investments. Not much seems to change for the locals.  Local kids leave town seeking better prospects in the cities. Three local families controlled the local politics back in the day, but their hold eroded in past decades. Outlying region is farmland and “cow country” where cattle are raised for slaughter. “Kalungas” are local descendants of wheat plantation slaves, maroons, crystal prospectors, and cowboys. Though some live in and around town, a main settlement is the nearby town of Moinho, about 13 kilometers away.

The dry season lasts about six months (eight months in bad years), the height of which is May – September, considered the best time to trek.  “High Season” though, follows the typical nationwide pattern that corresponds to the vacation periods of mid-December thru February (summer) and June thru July (winter).

On an electrical grid that covers 200 square kilometers, subject to frequent surges and outages especially now during the rainy season (a domino effect of any incident on the grid), further complicated by the intense conductivity of the immediate area due to its juxtaposition over crystal (surge protectors a must here – independent energy supply even better).

This small town of 8,000 sustains health food stores and an Indian import-export shoppe, and it’s not primarily tourist trade.  Cooky mix of eclectic class and culture cross-sections somehow cohabitate harmoniously, even affectionately.  Nobody bats an eye or cocks a head at the nothing-new-comers, foreigners, lone women, goofy hippies in Indian clothes, or me.  I am treated with kindness and respect just like everyone.

This is “it.”

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