I A gold nugget as large as a suckling pig; the treasure of Atahuallpa enriches 74 horsemen, 138 foot soldiers, and the king of Spain; El Dorado, a vain cacique covered in gold dust washes off in the lagoon; stories of Amazons and a Greek artilleryman.
II At the foot of the Andes, under water for five months of the year. The inhabitants of the great swamp: mild, ingenious, adaptable. Three men in a boat take a census. Vast quantities of land and water, but no gold, silver, or precious stones.
III The myth of Paititi, Father-Tiger, and the mysterious Incan migrations over the Andes. A rich and noble mestizo with fourteen men seeks to conquer half of America. El Dorado bogs down in the swamps of the Mojos. The citizens of Santa Cruz – eleven disorderly streets – look for slaves.
IV The round up of Indian slaves comes to an end while the contest for their souls begins. A chaplain-physician and a polyglot missionary. Hatchets, wedges, and knives in exchange for obedience. Three-naved cathedrals of mud and wood.
V The good fathers confront the loose habits of the Mojos. A straw mattress, two geese, and two spindles make up the bride’s dowry. The Indios and disease: stoic or healthy? Portuguese and Spaniards at war on the edge of the swamp. The sad expulsion of the fathers in 1768: twenty-four leave but only fourteen arrive.