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At Praia da Luz, the tourists are the same and the residents avoid talking about the case - Sol






Madeleine case
At Praia da Luz, the tourists are the same and the residents avoid talking about the case

One year after the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, the four-year-old English girl, an apparent air of normalcy hangs over Praia da Luz, a village that leans against the sea and tourism. The locals' attitude of reservation and fear, and the will to forget the Maddie case, are stronger than the spontaneity in speaking about the mystery

"Everything is the same, there is no difference in the number of tourists at the moment, when compared with last year", we are told, in an almost hushed voice, by a cleaning employee at the Ocean Club, the tourist resort where the McCann family was staying on the 3rd of May, the day that their daughter Madeleine disappeared.

Soon driving away in a white van with half a dozen colleagues that go to deliver clean towels and sheets in the Ocean Club's rented apartments, the cleaning employee only had time to add "I'm sorry, but I have to go to work".

It's 10.30 a.m. and over 25 degrees Celsius in the sun. The ground floor apartment where Madeleine disappeared from, a year ago, has been sold to English people. The windows are closed and do not allow for the light to penetrate, contrary to the neighbouring apartments, is a sign that nobody is spending holidays in that apartment.

"There are less people at this time of the year, but the blame may not be only on the little girl's disappearance, there are now cheaper holiday destinies, like Egypt or Turkey", a cleaner from Multiserviços tells us, while she sweeps the trash next to the apartment where Madeleine disappeared from, one year ago.

One of the pools where the McCanns and their friends used to bathe is almost deserted, only a mother and two children are resting nearby on the sun chairs. Now, the Ocean Club's guests use a more secluded swimming pool within the resort, following new regulations in the club, according to a source that asked Lusa to remain anonymous.

The Ocean Club two tennis courts where Madeleine's father, Gerry McCann, used to play, are empty.

Before one arrives at the Ocean Club's reception, one can still read "Please show your guest card. Thank you", a clear sign that this is a restricted club where journalists are not allowed to enter.

A few metres from the apartment, lies Casa Liliana, belonging to Robert Murat, the first arguido in the Maddie case. There are presently three arguidos: Murat and the missing girl's parents. At Murat's villa there is no movement, either, and only a silver-coloured vehicle can be seen parked inside the patio.

Near the church of Nossa Senhora da Luz, which had been visited by Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry, shortly after their daughter's disappearance, a panel displays an invitation to the population:

"Join us on Saturday May 3, at 6.30 p.m., in an ecumenical celebration for Madeleine McCann, who went missing in our Praia da Luz, exactly one year ago", is the message that can be read both in Portuguese and in English.

The secretary of the village council of Praia da Luz, João Arribança, aged 63, remembered that the Portuguese priest decided to give no further interviews to the journalists, as he was disturbed by certain connections that were made between the church and the disappearance of Madeleine.

"I still hope, for the sake of so many people, that the truth will be discovered. This has shocked the village very much. The case happened and we cannot explain it", the senior official observed, while adding that the Maddie case has not driven tourists away from the council.

"This has not affected Praia da Luz, it has become better known in the world. I foresee that we will have more tourists this year than last year", João Arribança considered, referring that villas close to the sea, in Luz, are being sold for around one million euros.

One of the most famous retailers in the village, the owner of a supermarket, did not want to give an interview, saying that he prefers to bury the matter under a rock, before he turns his back, deeply upset.

Pedro Melo, aged 26, born and bred in Praia da Luz, agrees with the retailer.

"I think there is a limit for everything", he launches, from the top of his bike, during the BMX free style acrobatics that he religiously performs every day in front of the church of Nossa Senhora da Luz.

For this young son of the village, it is disturbing that people come to the Algarve on holidays and visit Praia da Luz only to see the place where a little girl disappeared from, as if it were a sanctuary.

"I think that the amount of people who come to see the scene, is strange. They may be staying in Albufeira and come here only to see the restaurant and to check where the apartment is and they ask to see Madeleine's church which after all is called Luz church", the young acrobat corrects.

According to Pedro Melo, too, the number of tourists in the village has not diminished, one year after the disappearance of the little English girl.

"The tourists are the same and they do the same: they sit in the bars and the children roam freely, they go to buy chips, their skins red like lobsters, they go to the beach", he says.

An employee at the Ocean Club resort, who refrained from giving away his identity, corroborates what his friend says and comments that often, the children are sent into the company of employees: "it's us who puts up with them, but nobody pays me to babysit, I'm not a father", he says.

LUSA/Sol

2 comments:

  1. No suprise Praia da luz is all back to normal and trying to forget Madeliene.....Her parents had got back to normal pretty quick themselves.playing tennis, jogging and blogging within days. It used to make me sick to see the pair of bastards smiling and carefree in the early days of it....it still makes me sick now.
    When Gerry has the gall to say there is no evidence to say Madeleine is dead, its as if he is saying "prove it"...And when he says no evidence she has come to any harm it makes me feel pure loathing for him...No harm done indeed, even if the P.J is wrong and she was abducted to imagine no harm is being done to her is outrageous and them trying to make themselves look better.

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  2. Muito bom dia,Joana.
    Começo o dia cedo, porque o meu gatarrão gosta imenso de me acordar ainda é escuro.Depois de os tratar,

    venho ao computador e começo pela Gazeta,do Paulo Reis.Num dos comentários,que felizmente ele coloca(estou sempre preocupada com o bem.estar dele),o comentário da Cláudia traz o link de apoio a todos os da PJ,da Pequenina Maddie.
    Agradável ver já 38 apoios e o seu, lá está. Isso é muito bom.Na minha opinião dá + força ao blog criado pela Cláudia.

    No noticiário de 1 das Tvs,mostram as capas dos jornais pt. e o 24h diz que o casal incombustível(adorei este termo no explendor)foi ameaçado de morte.Quase certo ser mais uma manobra para que tenham pena deles.Mais uma chamada de atenção para eles próprios(grandes umbigos).

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