The second part of Luz I want to show you is not on StreetView, but it is one that you know well from the Operation Grange Luz dig of June 2014. I think of it as the mound. I have read it called the snail. And I have heard it described simply as ‘the little hill’.
I happen to think the only reason connecting the mound to Smithman is proximity, but I have heard of an alternative explanation. Which view is correct is not important in the following tale.
The dig on the mound was the start of my real interest in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. I had read both Kate’s book ‘Madeleine’, and Gonçalo’s book ‘A Verdade da Mentira’. But I had read both as a pastime, without any real interest in the case.
Then OG started to dig up one of the least believable locations in Luz, and I started reading up in earnest.
First, let me take you on the photos that StreetView does not cover. Here is the mound, on foot. All photos were taken on 23 May 2016.
Photo 1 is taken from the north, within the large area of Luz dug up by OG in June 2014. From here the mound appears to be tiny, but later photos will clarify its height. I deliberately left all the undergrowth in the photo so you get a good idea of the challenge faced by OG. They had to decide on an area of interest first, then strim off all the vegetation in that area before they could begin the search proper.
You can see the equivalent of this on Google StreetView. I am now in the road that runs from Rua 25 de Abril in the north to Rua do Calhete in the south. That is the tarmac running across the bottom of the photo. The rough road running up the centre of the photo will lead to the top of the mound. And the mound still looks like it is not worthy of the term ‘hill’.
This is just a few metres further south on the rough road. Note the kerb-stones leading from the bottom left hand corner. Although this road looks like a small track, it is actually a 2 lane street that is overgrown with 10 years of vegetation. Note the two trees almost touching, because next stop is the other side of those.
This looks like more of the same, but at the top end of the road it starts to bend right, to curve up to the top of the mound.
As the road curves to the right, you get an idea of where we are by the view to black rock.
This is half way up the mound, located to the south of the hill, and facing west to the Urbanisação Paraíso.
On the road below, there is a motor home (parked close to a big pile of rubbish). I will return to this motor home shortly.
Facing west, this is the alternative route to get on and off the mound. The way to the top is on the right.
As you can see, the road to the top is now a fairly steep incline.
From close to the top, this is the view to the NE. On the horizon on the left, the V-shaped bob with a spike on top is the water tower. That is the location of the 3 masts of the Optimus tower. In apartment 5A, Kate was on antenna Luz 2 of the Optimus network. Gerry was on Vodafone, and its mast is quite a bit to the east of the mound. There is a very minor reference in the files to St James, the pink and white buildings stretching from the centre to the right hand side of the photo. Gerry was seen driving past it on Rua do Cemitério. This was considered insignificant by the PJ. It happens to be the logical route from Baptista supermarket to 27 Rua das Flores.
This is nearly at the top. The road is still climbing quite a bit and turning to reach a flat, large area.
This is basically the top of the mound and looking south, where it opens out into a large turning zone. The size is hard to grasp from the photo, but a car would be able to turn round without needing a 3-point turn. If you remember the photos of the Operation Grange dig of this whole area in June 2014, it was normal to see a very large van parked on the top. I presume that was a mobile control centre for the exercise.
OK, I’ve gone to one corner of the car park/turning area, looking towards Luz and the cliffs to the east. While I’m trying to show you that which Google does not, most people go to the opposite end of the tarmac, and take vista photos from there. The building with the stepped top is LuzTur, on Rua Primeiro de Maio.
Look carefully at the next photo and almost dead centre you can see a small black car travelling down Rua 25 de Abril. In the June 2014 dig, that is where most of the photographers got there pictures of the activities near the top of the mound. Now you have an idea of what the police saw from the top of the mound when they looked down at the media bods.
This is the road that runs along the south of the mound, the lowest level. I wanted to have a look at the motor home that appears earlier. This is from the entrance to the road, and the motor home is tucked away from any traffic. This road is also two lanes wide, again looking much narrower because of the overgrowing vegetation.
This shows again how far the motor home is from the end of the road. I should have paid more attention to where the vehicle was registered, but by this time I was getting dehydrated in the sun.
I scampered around the motor home for a few minutes, and I never heard a single sound from within. Either the people inside were quiet as church mice, or they were very trusting, leaving a window wide open like that. Had they not heard about the ‘spate of burglaries’ in Luz associated with the Madeleine McCann case?
The next photo is simply to give you some idea of how big the mound looks from the south. This was taken very close to the motor home. It is a flight of steps that leads from the bottom level of the mound to the middle level. It goes up perhaps one half of the hill. I don’t know why it has been built here. Basically, it goes nowhere, saves no time, and frankly it looks like a truly horrendous climb.
Earlier on, I showed you the police view from the top of the mound to the journalists on Rua 25 de Abril. This is the opposite view, from the photographers favoured position to the mound. If you are wondering why it only looks vaguely familiar, please remember that the photographers came armed with enormous zoom lenses. My camera is fitted with an 8x optical zoom which gets nowhere near what those guys were capable of. But what I was doing was trying to reproduce what the human eye can see, not what can be done with a zoom lens.
It has been a particularly long post, so I will leave the analysis to another day. Just remember the motor home on the flat earth road beside the sea and the motor home on the mound.