Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I finish work at 16:00 and the bank closes at 15:00 and no such thing as an ATM here.

On a Wednesday in May 2006 we are told Kezia is really sick. São Tomé e Príncipe citizens have the right free medical treatment in Portugal for conditions untreatable here - but the bureaucracy of arranging the medevac can be a kafaesque nightmare however dire the emergency. So the reply is "No you need to go IMMEDIATELY!"

I rush down to our local travel agency- not a large concern, but with branches in three countries - to see if I can get us on the Saturday morning flight to Portugal and then onwards to London. I explain the situation - no problem - I book myself for a week and Kezia and Nanda for a month - payment? "Ach! - pay when you get back!" Taking Jaime over six months later - 50% upfront, 50% on my return (and even then in installments!). The same for every trip I have made to the UK since.

Our Honourary Consul liaised with my embassy x miles away in Angola to get Nanda and Kezia permisssion to enter the UK without a visa and at no charge. (unfortunately, he is no longer Honourary Consul - the Portuguese Embassy now deals with all EU nationals - I hate to think how that would have been!).

Our local shops (really the term should be kiosks but they sell all the essentials) extend tick - useful at the end of the month when money is tight!

The privately-run canteen at work extends me tick.

And if I ring the bank before it closes and tell them how much I need, they set aside enough cash for me to conduct my transaction at 16:30 - otherwise I would use all my annual leave going to the bank!

This would not happen in the UK, nor most countries.

Only in São Tomé e Príncipe!

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