Early yesterday afternoon, after Gabe came back from uni, we set out to accomplish one of the last remaining bureaucratic tasks on our list: to get permanent residency cards, which will allow us to stay here for longer than 90 days.

Theoretically, getting mine was no problem, since I have an EU passport. Well before we left California, I started making inquiries about how to use my citizenship to bypass the very involved process of getting a long-term visa for Gabe. We took all the necessary steps: registering our marriage in Britain, having a copy of that marriage certificate sent to us in Portugal, etc. So we had every confidence that we were fully prepared for yesterday’s task.

However, it of course turned into A Mission. It’s Portugal — what else would you expect?!

We started out by taking a quick Metro ride to the office we’d been told to visit, both by the Portuguese embassy in San Francisco and by the person at Gabe’s university who helped us once we got here. It was packed, but luckily we were able to talk with someone before getting in line. She told us we had to go to a different office first in order to get my residency card, and they would then would tell us what to do in order to get Gabe’s. Great.

Slight problem: she didn’t have either an address or phone number for this other office. She just told us to get off at a certain Metro stop, then turn left, and it would be right there. OK.

So back on the Metro we went, and dutifully got off at the designated stop. Looked at the map of the surrounding area, could not see the office we needed. So we asked the security guards, and they said, “Oh no, that’s not here. You need to go back down the line two stops, it’ll be right there.” Great.

Back on the Metro we went, again (see? Already those cards are paying off!) This time the map showed us where the correct building was, but we then proceeded to take the wrong exit from the station, and had to retrace our steps in the other direction. Almost two hours into our mission, and we hadn’t even gotten to the correct office yet, where I was certain we would be rewarded by waiting in yet another line. I was quickly ceasing to be amused.

We finally found the right office within the correct building, took a number, and then sat in the waiting room and watched as number after number got called on the monitor — except for the queue we were in, which stayed on the same number for twenty or thirty minutes at a time. Fabulous. After my Metro card experience, however, I seem to be inured to waiting for anything less than an hour, so it seemed like no time at all before our number was called and we were up at the desk.

Once there, the process was fairly smooth. After Gabe answered a number of questions for me and we paid the fee, the woman printed off a paper that officially pronounced me a resident of Lisbon. It was slightly anticlimactic — after all that, I expected at least a card or maybe a plaque or a small statue or something — but it felt very official nonetheless.

Unfortunately this is only the beginning of the bureaucracy, as we now have to go back to the original office with the long lines in order to get Gabe’s residency card. But step one has been completed, and I am now officially a resident of Portugal. How strange it is to say that, and something I would not have anticipated even a year or two ago. But there you go.

The rest of the night was spent quietly: catching up with friends, family, and colleagues on Skype, then drinking wine, eating a simple dinner, and reading before an early bedtime. It was nice, and much-needed, but it seemed sacrilegious somehow to have had an early night on the same day as I was pronounced a citizen of Lisbon. Hopefully they won’t revoke my status — I’m sure I’ll make up for it soon enough!

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