Alvalade is the home of Sporting Lisbon, the mighty lion of Portuguese football. And now, its also the key to my future...
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As promised, the day started early, with a trip to Alvalade's Conservatoria. However, it was just my luck that it had burnt down in a fire recently. Oscillating between hope and despair - have they lost my entry? can we create a new one? - we wondered down to the abandoned shop window to read a notice: the conservatoria had migrated, lock stock and smoking barrels (literally) to a different place. Luckily, it was only up the road, next to the Sonangol pumps by the national radio station.
To our great displeasure, the new place was nothing like the ordered chaos of Kinaxixe. Here we had sheer, unabated, uncontained disorganised chaos. After watching some great examples of Angolan queueing (surely an oxymoron if I ever seen one), I managed to sneakily speak to a worker. She dutifully told me that archive searches were not one of their set tasks; I should know to which conservatoria I belong, and that's that. If I truly wanted to conduct a search, I could wait two weeks for the new IT system that was being installed.
Well, we couldn't wait two weeks - half of our visas!! - nor did I have any belief in time scales for software development - Angolan's or otherwise, worked on far too many of these critters to have any faith left - so we gave up and decided to go for breakfast. I badly needed my morning coffee to regain my strength. God had, of course, very different ideas. An hour walk revealed nothing that could vaguely resemble a cafe and Shahin boycotted all street vendors so, in addition to all our troubles, starvation now beckoned.
We considered our options in a quiet shade under my baptism church. As if sensing our despair, just there and then our friend L decided to ring us. A lawyer! Surely a sign. She didn't know off the top of her head whether there were any other conservatorias in Alvalade, but she would check; in the mean time, we were to ring Portugal and try to rinse out more details. Shahin also thought we should consult the padre and see if we can get any additional info from him.
As we queued up to see the padre, we met another couple that were in almost exactly the same situation as us: a Scottish girl was trying to marry an Angolan chap, R, but they were struggling in both Britain and Angola. The coincidence was so amazing it felt uncanny. We chatted for a bit and traded war stories, commiserating each other. R told us he had had a lot of problems getting his birth certificate, and one of the most important things is knowing the location of one's entry in the registry. This was to be a vital detail.
In the end, all our sources came together:
- The church archives did not know where I was registered, but they knew the exact location (book, page, etc.) of my entry in it; thanks to R, we appreciated the importance of this vital information.
- My uncle knew where we were registered, and L confirmed that there was only one conservatoria in Alvalade. We also found my cousin's B entry in the church archive, and it mentioned the conservatoria (but regrettably, not the location of his book in the archives!).
Great dectective work. Now all we need is to request the documents on Monday.