MARY ANNE GOOSSENS, the Dutch tourist stranded in the Rio Chillar, Nerja, for 18 days has returned to her home in Stramproy (Limbourg).
She was released from Velez-Malaga Hospital and took a flight to Eindhoven on Saturday accompanied by her family and was received back home with a party of 5,000 people.
Forty-eight-year-old Mary Anne, a librarian, said that she plans to return to Spain “because it is a country which allowed me to survive and which from the moment I disappeared did everything it could to help me”. Her children, Fritz and Jantje, say that her rescue was a “miracle” which is more than they could have hoped for during the days they feared for her life.
The area where she got stuck was 800 metres above sea level and 20 kilometres from Nerja. She found she was unable to go back down towards the sea, or further up the mountain. She was trapped between two waterfalls which allowed her to drink.
During the day she wet her t-shirt to remain cool and later dried it in the sun. At night, she put grasses within her clothes to keep warm and made herself a bed. She tried to eat grasses and branches, and even thought about eating ants or lizards, but was unable to do so.
To pass the time, she thought about cooking and the party she would have for her 50th birthday. She says she never lost hope and went to sleep at night believing she would be found the next day.
At 8pm on Tuesday 5th July, three young hikers heard her whistling and calling for help. They gave her a blanket, a sleeping bag and food, but were unable to call for help as they had no phone coverage, but the following morning, they alerted the authorities and she was rescued by helicopter.
Although she has lost ten kilos in body weight, she is in good health, and says she will never forget the shocked look of the three men who found her and who went to see her in hospital.
As fate would have it, the three youths almost didn’t visit the area at all. They had never been there and another friend they were planning to go with was finally unable to make the trip. They almost cancelled it.
Her son Fritz has said he plans to call his dog ‘Nerja’.
By Jennifer Leighfield