International Women’s Day in Portugal

Update: I celebrated International Women’s Day in Portugal by becoming an official international woman. Finally, I have my resident card in hand.

Heading home on the train

My last post detailed my challenges with the delivery of my resident card from Portugal’s SEF immigration authority. After determining the card’s whereabouts, I chose to go pick it up in person. That meant going all the way back to the SEF office in Espinho, where I’d had my immigration appointment in January.

Yesterday was a crappy weather day along the Silver Coast and up north, but it was also the last day before another train strike halts or slows rail travel across the country for nine days. Two women friends offered to drive me the following weeks but I didn’t want to wait. A male friend guy I know said he would be happy to drive me, but his price — me — was too high. (Assholism is universal, apparently.)

Seriously? Ick.
(This is NOT a Portuguese person. Just a fool from another European country.)

I needed to take a bus and two trains on a nearly five-hour journey back to Espinho. I
left home at 6:30AM in the dark and gale-force winds to walk three miles — down a steep cliff dirt path to the beach, across a slippery boardwalk, and down slippery cobblestone sidewalks — to the bus stop. I was able to figure out the transfers, and understand the Portuguese-only announcements of changes and delays.

I love the many beautiful train stations I saw on the way to Espinho.

Once in Espinho, I trudged through more gale-force winds and torrential sideways rain that destroyed my umbrella. I was soaked through and through, as were the contents of my zippered purse, including my passport. Of course the train had pulled into the station 20 minutes after SEF closed for the universal two-hour lunch break, so I had to kill time at a small cafe while waiting for the office to reopen. I “splurged” on a large lunch of fish and chips with rice and salad, iced tea, and chocolate cake with a meio leite (coffee with half milk).

I got to SEF’s office two minutes before they reopened their door. I stood outside in the pouring rain and howling wind, unable to see through my rain-splattered glasses. The tip of my wet nose was almost touching the glass door into the building as people began lining up behind me. There was no way I was letting anyone get in front of me.

SEF on drier days

When the security guard unlocked and opened the door, I showed him my email from his office chief about picking up my card in person without an appointment. A SEF agent — the same one I’d met with in January — came to the door, nodded, and took me back to her desk. She remembered me. After looking at my wet passport, she pulled out a large stack of papers. They were all resident cards that had been returned by CTT. I was surprised at how many there were. She finally found mine in the stack, had me sign for it, and then handed me my card.

The card had been attached to a letter. Since the letter had originally been mailed to me, I asked her, “Posso tenho isto? Uma carta?” (A grammatically incorrect attempt at “May I have that? A letter?”) She understood what I was trying to ask, but said she was keeping the letter. I then asked, “Posso fotografia, por favor?” (Again, incorrect, but I was asking if I could please take a photograph of the letter.) She let me. The letter basically says my temporary resident permit has been approved, my resident card is enclosed, and it must be renewed after two years.

Got it!

And that was it. I walked out with my card safely zipped away in a wallet tucked into my wet purse. The rain had subsided and I walked the 15 minutes to the train station with a smile on my face. It didn’t even fade when train delays caused me to miss the bus back to my seaside village. When I finally got home it was 9PM, 14-and-a-half hours from when I’d set out on my journey. I spread everything out to dry on tables and chairs in my lounge, drank a glass of red wine with half a peanut butter sandwich, and went to bed. Tired but happy…and damn proud of myself.

Cost to go to Espinho to retrieve my resident card:

  • 60.50€ train
  • 21.70€ bus (includes extra 4.70€ for “ticket revalidation” for missed bus)
  • 6.55€ taxi home from village bus station (includes tip, which my Portuguese friends keep telling me not to do)
  • 2.00€ pay toilets at stations
  • 13.20€ lunch and dessert

One happy woman

The Hot Goddess

Instagram: retired_rewired_inspired

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  1. Well, you had you jump through a few hoops, but now it’s official. Congratulations!

    I guess the jerks don’t only reside in America.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Pam, your comment means so much. Thank you! 💜 Number (2) is helping build my confidence and (somewhat) quiet my negative self-talk. Number (1)…can’t figure that mess out, and don’t want to. Have a wonderful weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So jealous of you!

    One of the reasons I love reading your blog is that you “tell it like it is.” Honestly, I think we all (certainly me!) have days where we doubt ourselves or play the endless loop of doom inside ourselves.

    Happy to hear that your long rainy day will lead you to more sunny days ahead. You are official!
    Yay you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hope you have a great sense of achievement! You solved it, in Portuguese. Dinner of champions: ” a glass of red wine with half a peanut butter sandwich”. Hope you’ll read my archive adventure in Mexico post, Florida Fishing Jaunt goes South.

    Liked by 1 person

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