Araucaria

High up in the Andes of Patagonia, the araucaria trees stretch into the skies, like giant antennas to the gods. 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 from it.

The araucarias 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.

Solitude