Guimatur, a tribute to Galician shellfish gatherers
For some years now, we collaborate with the women who harvest shellfish in the the Galician region with largest shellfish resources, in the old quarter of Santo Tomé in Cambados (Pontevedra). When they started their activity, we were among the first companies to work with them to guide and teach our clients in the experience of being shellfish gatherers for a day. This is Guimatur: a tribute to galician shell-fisherwomen.
From the beginning, we saw more interesting the human aspect of the experience, rather than the technical information this tour might provide. In fact, any tourist guide will like to make this tour with the passion that these women show about their profession. A humbling experience for tourism professionals.
The experience is far more than just wearing water-boots and go shellfishing while learning the different species of clams and other seafood that grow in this area. The "japonica" variety, the "fina"... surrounded by this spectacular scenery in the heart of the Ria de Arosa with the Island of La Toja as a witness in an area of over one million square meters when dry.
What the president and other members of this shell-fisherwomen association actually do is dignify and showcase this very hard work, traditionally done by women as a complementary income to the family economy, while the husbands were fishing in the sea.
And they explain much more. For instance, how the typical fishermen houses were traditionally built in the area, sized by the length of the oars of their small fishing boats, the houses were painted with the leftovers of the paint used in boats and some of its walls decorated with shells, not as an ornament, but by necessity. Besides, these women explain how in the recent past the area's particular richness suffered much damage and the natural resources were overexploited. Through awareness and hard work, they have managed to recover the natural resources and dignify this profession that today requires setting the price of the product by its weight and size to make this activity truly sustainable.
You can complete your journey accompanying the shellfish gatherers to the fish market where they will explain you how the purifying plant and the fish market itself operate, the ancient profession of the net makers, how a traditional tidal mill has been recently restored...
Nowadays the tourist product known as "Marine Tourism" is consolidated, and celebrities like the oscar-winning American actress Gwyneth Paltrow has visited the place during the shooting of her TV show about the Spanish cuisine. But this is our small homage to these women of Guimatur for being the first and still continue with this attractive initiative.