My photos were all taken around 7am on the morning of 15 May 2016. I only realised when I got back that Google had added to Streetview in July 2014. The photos with the long shadows are mine – they were taken not too long after sun-up. Google look like they were taken around midday, judging by the short shadows.
I wanted to show a bit of Luz that did not turn up on Google until the last pass, and which may (or may not) be relevant to Smithman.
One of the easiest ways to get out of Luz on foot is to follow the coastal track west. It ends in Burgau, but there are lots of places to stop off in between.
It starts at the west end of Rua da Calheta, basically a hundred metres south of the mound dug by Operation Grange in June 2014.
Here the tarmac surface turns 90° to head through Urbanisation Paraìso on the west, or north for Rua 25 de Abril. This doesn’t look much but it is an important way to get out of the Luz one-way traffic system. There is a rubbish bin near the centre of the photo, and that is where the road was sealed off by the GNR in June 2014, preventing traffic going through the mound.
Looking west, the surface turns to flat, baked earth. The route is a no through road so it is quiet. Most traffic is people coming to enjoy the sea view and to fish, but I want you to understand something about this area that OG did not know. Bear in mind there was no StreetView of this road for OG to look at when the OG dig was carried out.
This as the end of the row of houses on the front, and if you’ve got good eyesight, you will be able to make out a large vehicle in the centre of the photo.
And here that large vehicle in close up. It is now obvious it is a camper van/motor home, complete with couple of people enjoying the summer sun.
I don’t know if this is legal or not. There are two official camping sites nearby. One is a little way out on the road from Luz to Lagos. It is at Vale Verde, which is where the GNR first response team got a hurry up message. The other is just a short distance north of Luz, on the N125 beside Espiche. That one features in the alibi of the gardener whose van was reported as being near apartment 5A on 3 May 2007, when in fact that had occurred on 2nd May.
As I said, I don’t know if camping like this is legal, and I have never been interested enough to find out. The simple fact of the matter is that this is where it is not unusual to see a motor home or two.
Looking back in the next photo, you can just make out the white motor home. The very angular yellow lorry is a bit of a puzzle. It does not look a standard delivery lorry. The steps the rear and the windows in the sides make it look like it is designed as a home, but a very basic one.
This may be the reason. At the end of the hard earth road sits this little unit with a sturdy fence all the way around it. There is no sign to explain what it is and nothing equivalent to ‘Keep Out’ or ‘Danger’. The large white tank on the right is labelled liquid air. It happens to be at one of the very lowest locations in Luz. That set me thinking it might be a station for pumping sewage, but if it is, it was very quiet indeed.
If you look at the extreme left of the photo, it looks like XRX has graffitied the unit. XRX is a local bunch of young friends, one of the 3 remaining arguidos is associated to it.
On the right hand side, where the little pool of water is shining, the track that leads to Burgau. I have walked on this from Luz to Burgau and back, and most of it is easy, requiring only sensible shoes. I would estimate Smithman could have reached here by something like 10.20pm, say 20 minitues before the GNR was first called. This happens to be just one of dozens of tracks that can be used to walk out of Luz, so could they seal Luz? First, theGNR would have to have known about such tracks. Second it would have required hundreds of officers. And third, of course, by the time they were phoned it was already far too late.
This photo also shows the hiding opportunities of surrounding terrain and the difficulty this would cause for the GNR search.
At 10.20pm, there would been little light on 3 May 2007 on this track, but it is sufficiently flat that this would not be a problem, with one exception. The hill at the top right looks like a little hill, but in reality it is quite a large hill set back quite a distance. That is the one obstacle during the day, and I would not like to attempt in the dark. I would estimate Smithman could reach it by 10.40ish, just when the first phone call was made to the GNR, and the near-full moon should have been up by then.
Smithman would have had options. He could press on. He could wait, safe in the middle of nowhere, until there was a bit more light, and this route has several options where you can just turn off and get to a proper road.
The next photo is the final photo I took on my way home. It has little bearing on the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, except for one little point. My walk was in the very early hours of daylight, and I thought it would be very quiet. It wasn’t packed but the early morning tourists were up strolling, power walking, and this guy out at the tip of the rocks had his wetsuit on and had carried his surfboard to the edge of the sea. Quite how he thought he was going to surf when it was flat as glass is beyond me.
I did see a motor home on this trip, but it was an aged, scruffy beast, so I won’t post the photo.
Next up, in Smithman 2, I want to have a look at the second part of Luz that is used by motor homes, and explain the relevance of both to the case.