High up in the Andes of Patagonia, the araucaria trees stretch into the
skies, like giant antennas to the gods.
Undaunted by the elements, they flourish in the most inhospitable
places: on exposed rocky ledges, in arid stony soil, on ice-cold and bone-dry
These thousand-year old trees wither the most violent snowstorms, like
towering masts in the wind.
Born in the age of dinosaurs, they have withstood the tempests of time, sprouting spiky scales instead of leaves. Their pine nuts are huge and hard,
and legend has it were inedible, until, during a terrible famine, God himself
appeared to the Mapuche Indians, encouraging
them to partake of the holy fruit of the pehuén
by boiling it soft. From that day on, the Mapuche
have never suffered famine.
The groves of araucaria trees are a natural sanctuary. Each holy tree is
a temple, a pagoda, an altar between heaven and earth. The Mapuche confess under it and pray to it, and one of the tribes, the
Pehuenche, even derive their name
They are the sovereigns of the native forest, the axis of the south of
the continent. Neither the fury of the elements, nor the incessant passage of
time can daunt their courage.