This activity takes us deep into the seafaring soul of Muxia, a small fishing town in the heart of the Costa da Morte ("coast of death"). Although just another working day for the percebeiro, we will witness dramatic, on-the-limit moments as he confronts the treacherous sea among the jagged rocks. We will also be amazed by the ancient techniques, practically intact to this day, for drying conger eels on the rocks a few meters from the ocean, on the way to Santuario de A Barca.
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The percebeiro profession is a dangerous activity due to exposure to rough seas in the places where barnacles grow. The cold and restless sea of the Galician coast is worked by the percebeiros, true professionals with invaluable knowledge about coastal and maritime behavior.
In many coastal towns there are women percebeiras who enjoy great respect for their dexterity and skills in the extraction and selection of barnacles.
Usually, a kind of chisel or scraper is used to detach the barnacles from the rocks. The percebeiros (those who collect them) take special care not to damage the muscle part of the barnacles when detaching them, so that they retain all their biological properties and taste. Besides, a well cut barnacle can stay alive for several days. Harvesting can only take place in areas that have a Management Plan approved by the Department of Fisheries in place. The barnacles captured in Galicia are without doubt of higher quality than the smaller catches that come from other countries like Canada, Morocco and Portugal. This is due to the nutritional richness of Galician waters.
Day 1: We suggest you get to Muxia early in the afternoon. Once checked into Casa de Trillo we invite you have your first encounter with the Atlantic at Cape Touriñán, catching the last rays of sun falling on the westernmost point of mainland Spain. From Muxia it can be reached in less 15 minutes following the signs along the coastal road.
Cape Touriñán Cape juts into the sea more than a kilometre, and we suggest going on foot. It allows us to stretch our legs, breathe the sea air and contemplate the vastness of the ocean. You will take pleasure in an area barely touched by the hand of man, where it is common to see wild horses graze. At the end of the road we reach the lighthouse, where we can peek at the rustic balcony jutting out toward the sea. Make sure you have your camera ready for when the sky starts turning into a palette of reds, and capture the moment and the place where the sun plunges into the sea. Here, it is easy to understand why many people think that the name Costa de Morte, "Coast of Death", derives from the sunset - the death of the sun. Enriched by these pictures and sensations of nature in its pure state, we head back to the lodge to enjoy dinner.
Day 2: We join a barnacle fisherman on his working day. This sea trade requires immense courage. We will not be in any danger ourselves, seeing as instead of joining the percebeiros on a boat to reach the inaccessible cliffs and rocks, we will be watching from locations strategically chosen by them, allowing us to observe them working without needing to take any risks ourselves. The best area for barnacles on the Muxia peninsula is right at its tip at a place known as Punta da Barca, between the lighthouse and the sanctuary. The time the percebeiros start working depends on the tides and therefore varies from day to day. The tide tables need to be consulted daily. Careful observation of the sea is vital for these bold professionals. We will go with them to the observation point and learn first hand how to read the sea and the wind, to work out how strongly and from where the wind is blowing and how the sea will be breaking on the rocks, in order to take all these factors into account and sidestep unnecessary dangers. We will take a look at their equipment, a mix of diving and climbing gear, and the tools they use.
And finally, we will see how in addition to wetsuits, ropes, harnesses and blades, they make use of incredible physical skill and expertise to perform well-calculated jumps, fast ascents, descents and dives. Finally we will be in their midst when they clean and prepare their catch on the rocks and later take it to the market. After this experience we will understand why this delicacy, whose taste is often equated to eating "a plate of sea", is among the most expensive on the market.
And at lunchtime, eateries and seafood restaurants abound in Muxía. We can find one in the port area or in the center of town. Eel stew, or eel in a corn pie, cooked in a broth, or fried, would be good choices - especially as part of our day will be dedicated to doing the "route of the conger dryers". This are an old craft and a secular method for drying the fish. Muxia is probably the only town in all of Europe which still uses these structures, which consist of a series of interlocking logs called cabrias onto which open conger, previously cleaned and perforated along their surface, are hung or placed.
Day 3: After breakfast we encourage you to continue south on the Costa da Morte towards Finisterre, allowing you to compare its constant harbour activity with the more relaxed pace of Muxia. Following the AC-2301 and AC-445 for about 45 minutes will take us to Finisterre. In the port we will come across sailors and fishermen coming and going, fishing, repairing nets or auctioning the catch at the fish market. This market is possibly the best one in Galicia for sightseers due to the installation of a platform that allows you watch all the activities taking place without interfering with them in any way.
Casa de Trillo, steeped in history, is located in Santa Mariña, a small village within the municipality of Muxia that still retains the flavour of tradition. Set deep in the Galician countryside, the chapel dedicated to the said saint, the mill, the fountains, the crossroads, and the paths that run through it form part of a rich landscape in which you can encounter agriculture, livestock farming and forestry all around.
A note about the rates:
High season: Easter, August, weekends and holidays.
Low season: rest of the year.
|2 nights accommodation per person in double room + Day with Percebeiro||Included||120€|
|Supplement per person in high season||Optional||17€|
|Single room supplement per stay||Optional||37€|
There are no prerequisites for this experience.
COMMENTS OF TRAVELLERS WHO HAVE BEEN ON THIS EXPERIENCE
Recientemente hemos disfrutado esta experiencia y la recomiendo sin dudar. Desde el principio te hacen sentir especial y aprendes mucho. En el futuro volveré a contratar con ellos sin dudarlo por su profesionalidad.
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