A long walk around the Vila Boa de Goiás reveals the picturesque beauty of certain pockets of forest and swiddens.
The sugar cane plantations stretch without end. The herd grazes on the vast grassy plains infested with termite mounds.
The white and pink ipês stand out from the meadows, in the proximity of farms and sites centenarians to whom descendants of European emigrants lost in time have long given their sweat.
In one of them, we come across a group of rednecks.
They follow a long caravan of yoke of oxen that, in order to give us passage, are forced to deviate from the path.
One of the hillbillies, an elderly man, shelters from the tropical sun under a wide-brimmed black leather hat that matches his dark trousers.
Despite the protection, his skin is reddened and his green eyes are blurred by the sun's rays, as if emptied of emotion.
He is so intimidated by outsiders that he prefers not to interrupt the cane cutting he was dedicated to.
Greet us back, fleetingly. Let us take a picture. Soon, she returns to the warmth of rural work.
Cerrado de Goiás and the Complexity of its Ecosystems
There, as throughout the vastness of the Central Plateau, the “oases” of buritis mark the rivers and underground water tables, which are prolific in this Midwest, removed from Brasilia and from Brazil.
Farmers know it. They expand and align their properties according to the sacred buritizais, the denser and more extensive, the better. Which does not mean, however, that fresh water is scarce.
The Brazilian Cerrado is known by scientists as the “cradle of waters” or the country's water tank. It is renewed on three major aquifers, essential to Brazil. The largest, the Guarani, is located in the south and southwest. There is continuation about argentine lands. Much smaller, Urucuia and Bambui are further east.
In either case, the deep roots of the Cerrado vegetation retain us, in the case of the Serra Dourada, prolific, diversified and with names that are often still used by, or derive from, the indigenous peoples of the area.
Depending on the combinations of its flora, the Serra Dourada can encompass different sub-Cerrados. The typical, the Cerradão or the Veredas.
These hide enough water to irrigate the ghostly paperwood trees and the different palm trees that, from time to time, enchant us again.
In addition to the buritis, babassu, bacuri, guarirobas, jussaras and others proliferate, in spaces covered by jaguars, giant anteaters, armadillos or even maned wolves, among many others.
From a distance it may not seem like it, but the cerrado biome is also full of lower and woody fruit trees with names that are also somewhat surreal, the araticums, various araçás, jabuticabas, guavas and marmelinhos, mangabas, cajás, Gravatás among many, so many others.
We found and enjoyed some of them in the juice and milkshake houses in Vila Boa. We also enjoyed pequi, an ingredient in rice with pequi from Goiás, one of the region's specialties.
Orlei, one of the service guides for visitors to Vila Boa and the municipality of Mossâmedes, is a son of Goiás. He knows a little bit of everything, including the most unlikely corners of Serra Dourada.
With him as our guide, aboard his matching yellow buggy, we wandered through the mountains.
The Stone Town of Serra Dourada
We enter the gray labyrinth of Cidade de Pedra, one of several that coexist in this center-west and in other more or less distant areas of Brazil, such as Pireneus, on the outskirts of the neighboring city of Pirenópolis.
There we discover a stronghold in which a rock base was eroded and sculpted by natural agents with such criteria that it bequeathed a city of cut columns, arches and other capricious formations.
Some, less tall, resemble figures.
The Crazy Sabotage of the Famous Pedra Goiana
Others still, collapsed but preserve a prominent place in the past of Goiás. This is the case of Pedra Goiana.
Until July 11, 1965, an enormous rough monolith, with an estimated weight of between 25 and 50 tons, was maintained in a prodigious natural balance, on two tiny feet and at 1050 meters of altitude, with complicated access, somewhere between Goiás and Mossamedes.
Seriously defying gravity, the stone attracted a good number of visitors, eager to admire it and, often, to be photographed at its base or, in a conquering pose, on top.
This other product of erosion, unique in Serra Dourada, has resisted the successive millennia. Without anyone daring to foresee it, the stupidity of young people from Goiás annihilated it.
the writer Ercília Macedo-Eckel she was a serious admirer of the “Stone that Fell from Heaven”.
He recognized its extraterrestrial powers, immune “to the laws of change, decrepitude and death”. He saw in it one of the most serious symbolisms of the indigenous god Goyá, who would inhabit the vicinity of Serra Dourada.
And as he paid tribute to Pedra Goiana, he also deigned to put his finger on the wound and point out the authorship of “a gang composed of nine playboys from the city of Goiás:
Aluizio de Alencastro (Luz da Lua), Joel de Alencastro Veiga (Vequinho), José Alves (Zé Sancha), Sebastião Alves (Tião Sancha), Ailton da Silva Oliveira (“Dentist”), Sebastião Bento de Morais (Bentinho), Nelson Healed Son (Curê). Luiz Nascimento (Lulu) and Eugênio Brito Jardim (Tatá).
Despite the opening, at the time, of “a rigorous inquiry”, most of the group had family members or influential friends in the city. None of them suffered punishment for the crime.
Several later had important professions and positions in the community of Goiás. One was a university professor, faculty and foundation director. Another was a servant of the Legislative Assembly of Tocantins.
Despite the various later theorizations, its atrocity was the result of a group's desire, idiotic and possibly scorned, for protagonism and notoriety.
And the Narrative of Incredulity by the Writer Ercília Macedo-Eckel
Ercília Macedo-Eckel goes so far as to narrate a defiant warning that the group made when passing by a soldier: “Look, soldier Miguel, don't say we didn't warn you. We are going to dethrone Pedra Goiana, which weighs approximately 30 tons.
We want to enter the History of Goiás, through this original and unimaginable feat. The former capital can no longer take the riots promoted by us, under the influence of cachaça or not…
“We will soon make headlines in Goiás and Brazil.” "Soldier Miguel didn't even care, he thought it was nonsense, talk of crazy people, drunk dance breakers."
And yet, the group climbed aboard Alaor Barros Curado's pick-up, equipped with a hydraulic jack, perhaps also dynamite.
As they had promised, in a few moments they rolled down the slope and damaged the monolith that Nature it had taken over 700 million years to sculpt.
Dissatisfied with the replica they built in Goiânia, elements of the Federal University of Goiás and the state government recently joined forces to put the original stone back in its place.
So far, no results.
The immensity of the Cerrado of Serra Dourada
Without being able to admire it, we surrender, hand in hand with the mystery, to the rest of the unbelievable, wild and wild scenery.
Some rocky nooks in which, despite the city's imagination, any unwary outsider gets lost in three stages and finds himself in trouble.
In an imperceptible first impression, it is refreshed by streams and crystalline lagoons that, during the long rainy season, from October to March, generate short waterfalls.
Still and always aboard Orlei's powerful buggy, we went up to the Urubu-Rei viewpoint.
At dusk, from the panoramic top, we realize how obvious the name of the mountain becomes, with its green, yellow and golden patches arranged like a patchwork blanket.
From the Urubu-Rei viewpoint, we wind our way, with bumps, towards the Vale da Areia, a domain of white and grainy soil hidden in the middle of the plateau.
On the way out, Orlei explains to us with undisguised pride: “These are the sands and stones that Goiandira used in her paintings.” she tells us while taking soil samples. (...)
“She came from time to time to the mountains to look for them, in the same places where the pioneers prospected for gold, as they also did in Pirenópolis and so many other parts.” (…) “In his studio there is a collection of more than 500 shades of sand and pigments from the Serra Dourada.”
Goiandira Ayres do Couto (1915-2011) was a contemporary plastic artist, cousin of the also deceased poet Cora Coralina.
Even after its 90th birthday, still with a lot of vitality, Goiandira continued to portray the mansions and landscapes of Vilabo.
To this end, he created his own painting technique that he patented in Rio de Janeiro and which won him international recognition: he would scratch the design on the canvas, apply glue and sprinkle sand on his fingers.
His paintings decorate the UN headquarters. They are displayed in museums and are part of the collections of great Brazilian and foreign personalities from dozens of countries.
To Orlei's dismay, most of these personalities – like so many other possible visitors to the region – are still unaware of the reasons portrayed by the author.
Delayed recognition is something that does not disturb the region too much.
As time has forgotten Goiás and Serra Dourada, Goiás and Serra Dourada no longer hurt to wait.