I love Portugal lots. We go and play music there fairly often and always have a great time and enjoy being there. At the festival we play at up near Sao Pedro do Sul, we lost Ben once when he was about 3 or 4 I think. He'd just wandered off and in a matter of seconds was lost. Within five minutes I was frantic and went to artists reception and told the young girl what the problem was. She didn't seem to understand; maybe I wasn't making much sense to her, so I went to find one of the festival organisers who spoke good English and explained the situation. Being a mum herself, she immediately understood and contacted all the festival workers by radio with a description and to keep an eye out for him. We're fifteen minutes into lostness by now. Serious, stomach churning, sweaty, anxious panic is not far away and I am desperately struggling to remain calm and logical. We wait. I'd already done the 100yd dash between the office and festival site twice, the craft and food stalls a blur of meaningless colour when all I wanted was to see one fair head and one pair of blue eyes, eyes like Madeline's really tho hers aren't blue, innocent, unworried, trusting. 30 or 40 minutes into lostness a lovely Portugeuse mama from the village comes walking into the festival site with Ben walking happily by her side holding her hand. He'd just wandered into her house and explained that he was lost and she didn't understand a single word he said; but she knew he'd be one of the gringo's children from the festival and walked him back up. The relief was indescribable. I'd hoped against hope that something like this would happen for the McCanns but I knew it wasn't going to. If Ben had stayed lost I swear I would've torn that country apart looking for him.
I've been trying to remember if we ever left Ben alone ever at a similar sort of age. I can only think of once when we'd gone for a family get together dinner at a hotel somewhere and gone downstairs for a meal with everyone, leaving Ben asleep in the room. He was a baby then really and we'd put a monitor in the room and had the other one with us. We've never left him alone as a toddler, not anywhere, not without a sitter anyway. You just don't, do you? Not if you're not in the same building anyway.
I've seen it in other countries amongst continental officialdom. You push and you push and eventually they lose patience with you and snap. Specially if you're making them lose face and look incompetent or worse. It's a tough line to walk. I don't really believe they had anything to do with it; it just doesn't add up. I don't know though, how can any of us know? I don't know how they can bear what they're going through. I just hope against hope that that beautiful little girl is still alive somewhere and can one day be reunited with her family.