High up in the Andes of Patagonia, the araucaria trees stretch into theskies, like giant antennas to the gods.
Undaunted by the elements, they flourish in the most inhospitableplaces: on exposed rocky ledges, in arid stony soil, on ice-cold and bone-drymountain ridges.
These thousand-year old trees wither the most violent snowstorms, liketowering 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 himselfappeared to the Mapuche Indians, encouragingthem to partake of the holy fruit of the pehuénby boiling it soft. From that day on, the Mapuchehave never suffered famine.
The groves of araucaria trees are a natural sanctuary. Each holy tree isa temple, a pagoda, an altar between heaven and earth. The Mapuche confess under it and pray to it, and one of the tribes, thePehuenche, even derive their namefrom it.
They are the sovereigns of the native forest, the axis of the south ofthe continent. Neither the fury of the elements, nor the incessant passage oftime can daunt their courage.