Stop press! Forget all those dieting books! I managed to lose three kilos in three weeks just by retiring and moving house & country! And I didn’t even notice it…and you can keep drinking! Pass it on.
You know how it is when you move; you can’t find those little things and tend to miss them. Little things like passports. Bugger. The last I saw of it was when I checked into my flight and now it has disappeared into some place where all lost passports go. I think it’s the same place where all those little foldable umbrellas and lost keys go; a kind of Valhalla for detritis. So, off to the Consulate at Portimao where the staff are actually very helpful. They’re my kind of bureaucrats; they apologise for the paperwork. Ok, it’s forms to be filled in and money to be spent but what the hell, some little passport gremlin is having a good chuckle at my expense. They spend their lives laughing at passport photos, of course.
One snag: I have to get an incident number from the local police. Now, I’ve been here three weeks and my Portuguese is minimal to say the least. I normally manage with English, German, French and Spanish but today was faced with a blank wall of faces. Ok, we sat down and used Google translating services which worked although it was rather slow and came up with some amusing malapropisms. Name address, circumstances, etc, all the usual stuff. Then we hit a brick wall. Identification? Who are you? Can you prove it?
‘Well, yes, here’s my bank cards, credit cards, drivers licence.’
‘Why is the bank in Germany, senhor?’ (long explanation and I also have an account in Portugal). ‘Why is your address on the driving licence in England?’ (long explanation). ‘Ah, I see you also have a bank account in England.’ (Yes, and in Portugal). ‘Do you have an address in Portugal?’ (Of course.) Do you have your residencia?’ (no, not yet, I need a passport to do that). Hmmm. Furrowed brow.
I happen to be a Portuguese taxpayer as well and have a contribuente card and Fiscal number, and you would have thought that that might have impressed him; not many people pay tax here, you see, so that makes me something of a novelty. But he still wasn’t impressed. He clearly thought that any foreigner who contributed to his salary needed his brains testing.
‘Photo ID?’ (I explained to him that we English feel that having an ID card is seen as an infringement of our valuable personal liberties, this in the most surveilled country in the civilised world). He was not impressed again and started fiddling with his pistol. I emptied out my wallet to find something that he might accept to confirm my identity but only a photo would do. Then he had a brainwave.
‘Do you maybe have a passport, senhor?’