Paraty Girds for a Tourist Tsunami

By Cassie Pacenka

Our first full day in the charming coastal town of Paraty began with a briefing for the Pace University Green Map team by Paraty’s Secretary of the Environment, Gibraic Ramck, Jr. In an interview for our forthcoming film afterward, he estimated that the flood of sports fans and tourists headed to the World Cup in June would bring an extra 200,000 people to this town – which is already 20 years behind schedule on water treatment, sewage control and other vital public services.

Alex shooting b-roll on the streets of Paraty. Photo Credit: Samantha Finch

Alex shooting b-roll on the streets of Paraty. Photo Credit: Samantha Finch

Following lunch, the owner of Paraty tours, Sebastian Buffa, told us that city officials and business owners are working with the federal government to evaluate what the town’s maximum capacity is and how to improve infrastructure to sustain tourism in the future, especially during the World Cup and Olympics.

After witnessing the awful state of the sewage system while filming around the town, one video team interviewed Paraty’s secretary of health, Dr. Fernando Pedro Louro, who is also a pediatrician and Green Party politician, and deputy secretary of health, Levy Coelho.

The interviews took place in a busy medical office in a corner of Town Hall. Dr. Louro spoke to us about how Brazil needs to move away from centralized health systems and focus more on providing care and education through dispersed small clinics.

But that, like improvements to the town’s water systems, will take years. In the meantime, he said, improving public health education is a vital step, so people know what water is safe to drink or bathe in.

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Aecio Sarti painting a portrat of Dr. Luskay in Paraty. Photo Credit: Cassie Pacenka

There was a remarkable moment, unrelated to our film project, that we have to share. We also interviewed a renowned Paraty artist, Aecio Sarti, who paints portraits with a hint of Modigliani on recycled, patched truck tarps and uses paint made from palm oil.

The surprise? After we interviewed him, he insisted on painting a life-size portrait of Professor Maria Luskay in a mere 15 minutes.

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