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Saturday, April 08, 2006

By any other name it is still a tourist trap

While Iguazu Falls may be the main event for most visitors to the area, there are other things to do and see in the town of Puerto Iguazu and along Route 12 which leads to the national park. It’s just a question of whether they are worth a visit.

Aripuca, for example, displays more than 30 species and 500 tons of fallen trees from the rainforest. While the Footprint guide to Argentina bills it as “an inspired center for appreciation of the native trees of the forest,”it seems little more than an elaborate effort to get people to buy furniture made from the roots of those trees.

It’s not like I didn’t learn something of interest, though. The two-story tall wooden structure on the property is modeled after a humane animal trap used by the Guarani, the indigenous group in the area. The Guarani call the trap an “aripuca.” When an animal wanders underneath the structure to eat the berries or nuts placed there, the contraption closes over them.

The gigantic version only traps people like me or my husband who are willing to pay 5 pesos to enter (see photo).

Aripuca does produce top-quality furniture. Carved from the roots of giant trees, each piece is unique (see below). One chair will run about $400 including the cost of shipping it home.

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