Week 37: Busy
One morning this week we returned to the Taxas e licenças counter of the town hall in Tavira. It was one minute before nine. A minute later the civil servant arrived. We greeted him and gave him our atestados (parish certificates proving our address) and passports. He photocopied the passports and returned them to us. He didn’t ask for any other papers, just excused himself to go back to his desk.
After examining his computer for a while he began shaking his head. ‘No,’ he said. He stood up. ‘No, it’s not possible.’ He was speaking in English to us now, although we’d started off in Portuguese. ‘There’s nothing I can do about it,’ he said, walking towards us with a regretful expression.
Our hearts sank simultaneously.
He joined us at the counter. ‘The system is down. Can you come back later? Have a coffee or something?’
Our hearts rose again.
Twenty minutes later – after coffee and cake – we were back. The man looked happy and everything was fine. Perfect, in fact. We paid a small fee at an adjacent desk and returned to the counter where the helpful woman we’d talked to when we first came to the town hall smiled a huge congratulatory smile and proudly showed us our certificates, giving us the chance to check our names and address had been correctly rendered. They had. We returned several days later and picked up the embossed and signed certificates of our residency of the República Portuguesa.
At home we’ve mostly been living with dust and noise as a new bathroom is built, electrics are repaired, cupboard space is created and a small interior wall is demolished. We’ve had builders, carpenters, electricians and plumbers around. Almost every day new plans for the kitchen arrive by email from Germany; the new kitchen is to be installed early in March, after which the ‘spare’ kitchen in the other half of the house will be transformed into the Backstube, the bakery.
Half the workers in the house have been Portuguese, the others German or Swiss. I don’t know why so many German-speakers. We followed up recommendations from various sources and generally came back with Germans, Swiss or Portuguese. Nobody from the UK. Something cultural there to explore one day. Maybe an outcome of the greater extent of professional training in the trades that occurs in Germany and Switzerland, and perhaps that training is more exportable to other European countries than the UK equivalent. The British seem to come here later in life, to retire rather than to work. (Not in my case.) An exception is a young British woman, a film editor who also makes beautiful, bespoke terracotta tiles. She has made us some gorgeous tiles to fill the gap in the floor where the connecting wall between houses 1 and 2 was removed, and once I’ve grouted them in I shall post a picture.
We have bought my dream car. Husband has the jeep, and I have Rolie, short for Roland (French pronunciation please), a Renault 4 GTL. Here he is. What a beauty.
All this and editing cookbooks too. A busy week.