“CSI Boise” Returns Lost Photos To Spain


In June while working the “day job” in northern Spain I was driving a rental car through the Pyrenees Mountains north of Pamplona when I spotted a sock in the road which appeared to contain an object.
Basque kids
Being an inveterate “road shopper,” I pulled off the twisty road and retrieved what turned out to be a point-and-shoot camera which was pretty banged up. I tossed it into a camera bag and forgot about it until this past weekend.

After downloading more than 400 photos, I felt like I knew the young Basque Man who was in many of the shots. He was in his late 20s or early 30s, had several girl friends, a boxer dog, liked to ski, bike, and spent a lot of time with younger children–posing for group shots often. He was either an athlete or sports celebrity.

In the shot posted here, I recognized the abutment to a stone bridge that I had also photographed. I checked my notes and identified the scene as Zubiri, Navarra, Spain. From there I just relied on the old detective tracking skills–we used to call it legwork. A single Google Map search in satellite view brought up the scene with a nearby hostel (hotel) listed. Street View even has images of the bridge.

The image of the Basque guy and kids was attached to an e-mail to the hotel asking for any help and the next day a return e-mail confirmed the guy is a teacher at the local elementary school. Four years of photos and memories are now headed back to Spain.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Suzanne Troje
    Oct 1, 2013, 9:23 am

    Wonderful story. How nice of you!

  2. Does this mean you are also now the Zubiri Guardian?

    Props to you, Dave!

    (I always identify myself with a little text document on my SD card – name, address, phone, email – just in case my point-n-shoot camera ends up banged up on the side of the road someplace.)

    Road Shopper? Yeah, I confess to that, as well. It’s probably easier for a guy who’s generally either bicycling or motorcycling – I can stop almost anyplace. I’ve collected small tools, occasionally a $1 or $5 bill…

    EDITOR NOTE–I have a collection of bungee cords, a lasso, and lots of small tools–rail crossings are great for the tools because the tools are shaken out from under the hood.

  3. This is Grand and in so many ways! Wish there were more of you around. Keep the lasso around as you may need to rope some of the negative in shortly.

  4. Nice story, Dave.

    Isn’t it amazing how much easier the Internet makes such sleuthing—with care?


  5. Mitchell A. Jaurena
    Oct 1, 2013, 6:39 pm

    Well done. That is the land of my family, with Alduldes in France and Arizcun near Elizando towns they came from and I know the area well.

    I too am proud of my road trophies.

  6. Chief Mike Masterson
    Oct 2, 2013, 7:06 am

    Good on you dave for researching and returning the camera to the owner. Reminds me of a recent story here in Boise involving a friend who lost an expensive fly rod and reel on the Boise River after the kayak hit a low hanging tree and dumped him in deep fast water near BSU.

    I contacted the greenbelt volunteers and gave them the information which i now admit is alittle old fashion thinking.

    My friend mentioned his plight to another friend who was retiring from BSU and she posted the info on the internet.

    Well, a few days later an army sgt from GowenField floated the Boise River with his dad and along the way spottted the bright green line. The Sarge was thinking someone had inappropriately discarded the line and he would pick it up and properly dispose of it at the end of his trip. Well, as he pulled the line he quickly noticed the tip of a rod and then realized he had the entire package worth about $1000.

    Sarge went home and did a google search for lost fly rod Boise River and instantly spotted the blog posted by the retiring BSU employee.

    My friend called and described the rod and picked it up later that week. For his good deed, the sarge received $100 and many thank you’s from my friend.

    The lessons learned, in your case and this story, is the value of modern technology and being able to instantly check to see if someone lost valuable property- monetary or sentimental value. Of course, the other lesson here is that there are truly good people out there who are willing to do the right thing.

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