By Charles Cooper and Vincent Melita
The city of Paraty will be the second city on our trip in Brazil. Located halfway between Rio de Janiero and São Paulo, the colonial city of Paraty is a favorite tourist destination and historical center for Brazilians and international tourists alike. This central location between Brazil’s two largest cities and two of the three biggest stadiums in the 2014 World Cup create an interesting dynamic for this city that many people will pass through on their way between Rio and São Paulo for various sporting events during the next three years.
Surrounded by lush forests and national parks, Paraty is known for its commitment to green tourism with many pousadas and businesses utilizing sustainable practices.
An example of the sustainable efforts is spotlighted at the Pousada Casa da Colonia where the owner, who also is the former mayor of Paraty, grows his own vegetables in an organic garden, uses fluorescent lighting, and filters water for his guests, allowing the pousada to be as self-reliant as possible. This location is just one of several places in Paraty that can be found on the Green Map, which documents information about sustainable businesses.
Among the national parks neighboring Paraty is Serra da Bocaina. It is composed of sixty percent native forest, the rest having been regenerated for more than thirty years. It also contains one of the highest points in Brazil, rising to 6,850 feet above sea level. Within the Serra da Bocaina National Park is Poco de Tarsan, which literally translates to “Tarzan’s Well.” It is one of many recreational parks in the Paraty area. Poco de Tarsan features a great spot for rock sliding.
A major highlight of Paraty’s Centro Historico is Casa da Cultura, which records Paraty’s culture through photos and videotaped interviews with its residents over the years. There are many cultural artifacts as well as a beautiful view of the town from the main gallery.
With its location as the halfway point between Brazil’s two most populous cities, which house two of the three biggest stadiums in the 2014 World Cup, the impact of heightened tourism to Paraty could be significant. The question that stems out of it is, will the increased number of people be a boon to the area or a detriment to the environment? What happens if every hotel is sold out? How about the surrounding towns? How will being sold out effect laws about staying green? What kind of “green” is going to speak loudest? Commitment to stay sustainable or are they going to settle for the “real” deal? Based on success/failure of tourism areas, are there any new constructions plans for the Olympics? Far enough away from the Olympics? Will Rio2016 be not as much as an impact as the World Cup?
A lot of changes will be coming in a short period of time to this haven of the Portuguese colonial era. Will the town be able to keep up or will the potential for a rainbow of Real give way to a yellow sheen of greed that will corrupt the green ways of Paraty.