The weather is improving now but a dark cloud still hangs over the area: this is a post I was hoping not to have to write, or to be able to give it a happy ending, but that seems more and more unlikely as it is eleven days now since 8-year-old Gabriel Cruz Ramirez went missing in the hamlet of Hortichuelas.
It feels rather too close to home because that same morning, on 27th February, my partner S. was out with a walking group. They walked through Hortichuelas, cheerfully singing comic songs, and so it was a horrible shock to learn the next day that, barely an hour after they passed through the tiny village, Gabriel had left his grandmother's house to go to a friend's to play and hadn't been seen since.
There has been a massive search of the surrounding area - a mammoth task in a terrain so rough, full of deep abandoned wells, some of them dating back to the time of the Moors, and hills honeycombed with mine workings, many of them two or three centuries old.
Entrance to one of the old mines up in the hills:
The torrential rain we had in the days following Gabriel's disappearance hasn't helped either.
The local shepherds are helping the police as they know better than anyone else where to find the old wells.
More than 8,000 people gathered in the city of Almeria yesterday to show support and sympathy for Gabriel's family, but as day after day passes hope is fading.
I wish it were possible to rewind time like a film to the moment before he left his grandmother's house.
We dread going home in a few days, possibly never to know what has happened to the little boy.
A Song for Gabriel.
Walking along the coast,
we see a police boat
and on the dirt roads their landrovers
patrol, searching for you.
Where are you, Gabriel?
Day by day goes by,
drones fly through the steep ravines
inaccessible to man,
helicopters patrol the skies
hovering above our heads,
looking for you.
One hundred volunteers, heads bowed
go scouring the ground, but even Elton,
sniffer dog in Spain,
brought from the north just for you,
has failed to track you down.
Day by day goes by, your story
is on the news
but there's no news of you.
They dredge the wells and search
the honeycomb of mines
within these hills.
You could be anywhere
in a hole so deep, so old.
Lost, alone in the dark.
Where are you, Gabriel?
Where are you?
Since I wrote the above post, Gabriel's body has been found. A young life snuffed out so tragically.