By Wendy Williams
RARELY a day went by when I didn’t see Maria while waiting for my bus home from Arriate every evening.
But while she was always friendly and smiled and even sometimes stopped for a quick chat, until today I never even knew her name.
This morning I was greeted with the tragic news that this friendly 13-year-old had been found brutally murdered on the outskirts of the village where I have worked for the last half a year.
Incredibly upsetting, her body had been discovered in a place I walk past literally everyday.
In fact I walked past the pool house last night just 20 minutes before her lifeless body was chanced upon.
I only knew who it was when I saw her smiling face on the Missing poster that has been circling the town since she disappeared on Wednesday night.
María Esther Jiménez Villegas was a happy child; unceasingly friendly to everyone she met, including me.
Although usually wandering the streets on her own she never seemed short of friends, regularly ‘high-fiving’ the other kids that frequent the bus stop which is where the youngsters of the village normally gather.
Sometimes she spoke to me and she nearly always smiled and said hello.
It is sad to think that will never happen again.
As cliché as it sounds, I never expected anything like this to happen in the sleepy village of Arriate, home to just 3,500 people, and the villagers clearly didn’t expect it either.
As the national press descends on the village, it is visible shaken by the event and it will be a long time before this tragedy, and Maria, is forgotten.