This week we travel to the Arousa estuary to discover the island of Cortegada in Galicia. This island, together with the archipelagos of Cíes, Sálvora and Ons, make up the Atlantic Islands Maritime-Terrestrial National Park since 2002.

The island of Cortegada is located in front of the village of Carril, known throughout the country for its clams cultivated in the sandy areas near the island, and together with Briñas and Malveiras islands constitute an archipelago of the same name.

The history and culture of the village of Carril go hand in hand with the island of Cortegada and one would not be understood without the other. In the 20th century, the island, which had been donated to King Alfonso XIII to establish his summer residence, passed into the hands of a real estate company that planned to build a bridge between Carril and Cortegada to establish a luxury housing development. The neighbours mobilised and managed to get the island protected, thus halting the urban development plans. On 30 August 2007, when it was expropriated by the Xunta de Galicia after the payment of 1.8 million euros, the island definitively returned to the public domain, to the peace of mind of the residents of Carril.

Today we meet Rita Vidal. Her life has always revolved around the sea, like most of her neighbours in Carril.

When she was a little girl, Rita and a couple of friends made a promise to each other that “when they grew up” they would work together at sea.

And the promise was kept! After several years in which some studied and others tried their luck working abroad, Rita and her childhood friends founded Amarcarril: an association of clam gatherers in which they put the knowledge of the tradition of shellfishing inherited from their ancestors, to discover this trade to visitors who want to discover where the famous Carril clams come from.

In collaboration with the Atlantic Islands National Park, Amarcarril also shows tourists one of the municipality’s greatest treasures: the island of Cortegada. Here, visitors can discover this protected area first-hand from a cultural and environmental point of view, but above all from the heart of these tireless shellfish gatherers who, with pride and experience, want to show the world the secrets of Cortegada and its seafaring tradition.