Parauapebas is a city in Pará. This is true frontier country: There was virtually nothing in this region until the world's largest iron ore mine, at neighbouring Serra dos Carajás was set into production in the early 80ies. The city still has an air of pioneers and adventurers.
Parauapebas itself is not a huge town, but it is definitely growing. The weather (while we were there) was hot, about 100˚F for the high, but cooled considerably at night to the mid-60′s F. I hear that in the rainy season it is much cooler.
It is by far the noisiest place I have ever been. The city has speakers all over downtown which play a radio station during the day. Then there are the “carro som” [sound cars] which are mostly trucks covered in speakers blaring out whatever message they have (advertisements, usually).
Like a lot of Brazilian towns, Parauapebas is not a well-ordered town in terms of city planning. Most buildings are wedged in between others just because there is almost enough space there.
The dust from the mine comes down and settles on and in everything. It is very fine, and rust-colored.
Buses come through town all hours of the day to pick up the workers for the 45 minute trip to the mine, which operates 24 hours per day.
It wasn’t all bad, though. We did get an entire cut of beef fillet for about US$ 6.00. Beef is pretty cheap there.
The people there seemed largely un-educated (in Parauapebas proper). While people are kind, most I met there did not have the kind of manners I have seen here in Teresina.
Carajás, by contrast, is a quiet (almost eerily quiet after being in Parauapebas), well organized town with well-educated people. If you get to a certain level working with Vale (though, not with their sub-contractors) you have free housing available there. It is a fenced community (in part to keep the big cats out) with banks, stores, schools—everything a family would need.
Every time I visited Carajás I felt like I was stepping into a small US town that somehow sprouted out of the jungle.