Oh, where to start on the fun that was yesterday.

We decided that the line wouldn’t be too bad if we got down to the Metro station to turn in our applications by 10. Since I had woken up late anyway, I left here around 9:30 to get my picture taken for the Metro card, then met up with Gabe at the other station at 10.

And oh boy, had we thought wrong. By that time, the line was already winding up the stairs and around the corner. After we’d been standing there a half hour and only moved about 3 feet, I sent Gabe off to University and stood in line to turn in both of our applications. Of course, not expecting the line to be THAT bad, I had neglected to bring my Kindle or anything else to do, so I resorted to playing Sudoku on my mobile.

Needless to say, by the end of my wait I was down to about 7 minutes per game, as it took me two and a half hours to make my way to the front of the line. Two and a half! I stood there from 10:15 AM til 12:45 PM. As I neared the window, I was petrified that I would have something wrong on the application, or have forgotten some vital piece of information — like the girl in front of me who realized an hour into our wait that she needed to have a photo. Whoops!

Luckily, there were no such problems for us. In fact, the sullen, slow Metro employee didn’t even look at me while she checked over each and every detail of our applications, filled out the receipts, and took my money, talking on the phone all the while. It took her ten minutes to process our applications, neither of which had any problems or special circumstances. No wonder it took one guy half an hour to get out of there!

And this was not even to actually GET the card, mind you. That we get to do today, after (of course) standing in line yet again. No, this was just to turn in a one-page application, pay the fee, and show her our passports. That’s it! That’s all she had to do! And yet it took her two and a half hours to work her way through a line of maybe 20 or 25 people. When I asked the woman in front of me why it took so long for the lady to do each one, she just shrugged and said, “It’s Portugal!”

Really, if nothing else, this year will teach me patience. Or kill me in the meantime.

The “hurry up and wait” theme continued for the rest of the day. I got home, scarfed down some lunch, then awaited Gabe’s arrival back from Uni, as he had gone in for a brief meeting. Then we had the additional joy of waiting for the broadband installation all afternoon, which was scheduled to begin at 2 (and to our shock, the guy actually did arrive around that time) and lasted until nearly 5 PM.

Apparently problems arose with the upload speed, which was too fast for the old lines to handle. This involved a great deal of time on the phone with the mothership (or whoever controls things on their end), trying to dial down the upload speed, tweaking the external lines on the outside of the building, messing with the connection, etc. In the end, the guy sprayed some WD-40 on the connector and it fixed everything.

Go figure. It’s Portugal.

Some time during the afternoon, I heard Gabe talking with the restauradore across the street, who to my surprise handed him a package through the window. Turned out that it was our mail. The mailman has no access to our building, so instead he rings all the bells, and if no one is here to let him in, he apparently just gives the mail to the guy across the street. This is on top of the fact that we are still not sure of the actual mailing address, nor has the landlord given us keys to the mailbox. So really, it was a minor miracle that the package reached us at all.

Theoretically, our landlord is going to give us the keys and have a mail slot installed this afternoon, but given that we still don’t have a shower stall, well, I’m not going to hold my breath. Because hey — it’s Portugal. What’s the rush?

Once the internet guy had finally left, we went out for a walk around the neighborhood, just to get out of the house and not have to wait for anyone for a while. We finished with an early (7:30 PM) dinner, since our landlord had promised to come by at 8:30 to drop off an extra set of door keys and some lightbulbs for the lamps.

We ate at a restaurant just down the street, which was recommended in the guidebook and had excellent food, but we were the only two people in there for quite some time. Finally, an elderly Japanese gentleman joined the party and proceeded to drink an entire bottle of red wine by himself at a rapid rate. Oh well — at least it ensured that we had good service!

We came back to the flat in plenty of time to meet our landlord… only he’d emailed at 8 PM to say he hadn’t left yet but was still going to come by. By 9:30, I gave up and just went to bed, leaving Gabe to fend for himself. The guy didn’t come by til about 10:30, by which time I was fast asleep — and in the end, half the lightbulbs didn’t even fit the lamps.

But hey, it’s Portugal.

This morning, I woke up early and went down to the Metro station before it opened to pick up our cards, which were supposed to be done the next day. (It was for this privilege that we paid slightly more and stood in line — the regular cards take 10 days, cost less, and are available at different stations. The “urgent” cards are only available at 3 stations. Hence the long wait. Right.) There were already 5 people in line in front of me, but luckily I could skip over them since I was only picking up. Even so, after the guy dug around in the kiosk for a while, he came out to report that the cards wouldn’t be done til 10 AM and I had to come back. Yet again. Holy God.

OK, I get the hint. I know when I’m down for the count. And this is that point. Thankfully, Gabe has offered to pick them up when he goes in to Uni. And when I finally get that Metro card, by God — I will use the hell out of it, because I earned it with blood, sweat, and tears. Or at least abject boredom, a damn fine Sudoku game, and sore legs.

But really, it’s all just a part of living in Portugal.

And now… pictures! The first few are of our first home-made dinner in the apartment, then a bunch from our tram ride (all of which are slightly blurry or badly framed, since they were taken while hanging out of a rickety old window), and finally some of the restaurant from last night. I thought I’d spare you a photo of each and every step forward that I took in line yesterday — although each one felt like a big enough triumph to document.


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