Once we got word that the Portuguese government had deemed us worthy of living in their fair country, it was time to spring into action.  There are so many things to consider: plane tickets, movers, getting ready for the movers.

Oh, and transport for our “fur child,” Jiver.  I had purchased one-way plane tickets for us to leave at the end of October. They had to be canceled but, I got a credit for those and now had to rebook.  Let’s just say it:  traveling with an animal is a pain in the ass!  I had read that dogs could not travel on the plane with you internationally at all.  Wrong again!  After speaking with an airline employee, it was suggested, if I could get him certified as an emotional support animal, he could ride in the cabin with us.  I got online (sometimes the internet is your friend) and promptly found an outfit in Louisiana that did such animal certifications, US Service Animals.  For about $200, a therapist calls you and asks you a few questions and then decides if you are certifiable…!  Happily, I am.  (None of my friends were surprised by this).  I mean, they certified Jiver as my emotional support animal.  And issued me papers to that effect.  In reality, I will be his emotional support human for the trip!

Given airline animal shipping regulations, it’s a good thing this worked.  It costs about the same amount to ship an animal as cargo ($200) but, the weather must be 45 degrees or warmer. Getting out of Denver and Newark in February, there is no way it’s going to be warm enough for that to happen.

There has been more paperwork to bring the dog with us than there was for us to get into the country!  The vet must issue him a doggie passport, and the airlines require forms to be filled out as well.  Then there’s the eight-page Portuguese form the vet must fill out to bring him into the country.  It is a relief that he can travel with us. And that there is no dog quarantine in Portugal.  He spent the better part of his life as a diabetic alert service dog for his person until he died almost three years ago.  We inherited Jiver when that happened so, he has paid his dues, so to speak.  He also has the wardrobe for it. He came to us with a service dog vest, which we will use.  And all the service dog papers are good for a year so, our little buddy is about to become a world traveler!

Jiver is dressed and ready to go!

The sorting out of what to take and what to leave continues.  The movers will come on February 11th and we ship out on the 21st.  And, this just in…our passports came back from the consulate in the mail today with shiny new residence visas inside!  Coming soon to Portugal…us!

Hold Please continued.

Well, we survived Thanksgiving (three-alarm hangover notwithstanding).  What is it about the holidays that makes us think it’s ok to drink EVERYTHING in one night?  (Oh yeah, friends and relatives.) The turkey was even good thanks to Marczyk’s Willie bird and a prosciutto and chili rub treatment.  Thanks for an excellent meal, guys.

So, we’re going on eight weeks since our visa application and zero word from the Portuguese consulate.  If we don’t hear something SOON, and we are stuck here through X-mas, I may have a complete meltdown.  I’m not going to lie; the waiting is killing me.  Not to mention paying for two places to live, one in Gaia that is vacant.  I won’t even go into how much I hate “the holidays,” especially X-mas.  After harping for dollars for ten years, if I never hear another X-mas tune again, it will be too soon.

I hear that X-mas is big in Portugal,  and I can’t wait to try the freshly roasted chestnuts sold on street corners everywhere.  Oh, and did I mention the Bananeiro festival in Braga?  When I first started researching Portugal over a year ago, I came across the banana and Moscatel fest that happens on Christmas eve in Braga, which is about an hour north of Porto.  Banana and Moscatel festival, you say?  How wacky, let’s go!  So, I started fantasizing about going to Portugal for X-mas last year already.

X-mas banana
Merry X-mas banana. (Only in Portugal.)

The tropical fruit and wine fest is the outcome of some mad marketing by a guy who owned a banana warehouse and wanted to attract customers.  On Christmas eve a few decades ago, he offered a glass of sweet Moscatel wine to anyone who bought some bananas, and it became a thing, as they say.  And now, every year thousands of folks descend upon the banana warehouse in Braga on Christmas eve.  Just the thought of it makes me laugh, and, want to try it, banana and Moscatel, that is.  It could be a great pairing.

Meanwhile, still in government limbo hell, I realize that it’s too late to be early.  Even if our visa approval comes through this week, we are already in the middle of holiday travel season hell.  Finding a decent one-way airfare will be nearly impossible.  So, if anyone, anyone (of my three readers) knows someone with a private jet that can move us from N.Y to Lisbon once we get that pesky visa, I will throw in free accommodations with us in Portugal for life.  Keep your ears open and let me know, will ya’?  Thanks a bunch, and I will keep you posted of events as they occur.  (Here’s to hoping that events will occur SOON. Hope with me, won’t you?) We need all the help we can get.

Jiver is all decked out and ready to go with his happy santa tail. (You can see Happy Santa Tail on You Tube or Instragram.)

Jiver is all decked out and ready to go with his happy santa tail.

And I Thought Moving Across Town was Arduous.

Now that we are “settled” into our little temporary crash pad, the real nitty-gritty work of pulling off an international move begins.  There are sites out there that tell you how easy it is to relocate to XYZ foreign country, and they can show you how.  Maybe I should have gone to their $1,000 conference in the Algarve (southern Portugal to which most ex-pats relocate).  Oh, right, I didn’t have the money then.

As usual, I am several years and a few hundred thousand dollars too late/short.  The golden ticket to moving to Portugal is buying $500,000 in property there, live there for a year, and then you get Portuguese citizenship and an EU passport.  That, of course, would be too easy.  We do plan to buy property there.  After five years of residence, we will qualify for citizenship and an EU passport.  It just takes longer, and then there is the whole visa process every year until then.

Have you ever read The Trial by Franz Kafka?  That is what it is like applying for a resident visa to live in Portugal.  (For what it’s worth, they say it is even harder to get a visa in Spain and virtually impossible in other countries.)

The process is full of catch 22s:  you must submit an application online to get an appointment to apply for the visa.  You must have an address in Portugal, and a reference there but, you must go there to get them.  You will need a residence permit but, you must be there to get one.  Ugh.  It goes on like that.  And I thought the logistics of our move across town were jacked up.

In the too late to be early department, there used to be a Portuguese consulate here in Denver.  No more.  To apply for a resident visa, if you live in Denver, you must go in person to San Francisco to apply for it.  So, it may be much cheaper to live there (in Portugal), but it will cost you to get there.

So, having achieved a visa appointment in San Francisco for the last week of September, I will start compiling the rest of the required documents in the meantime.  They include but are not limited to:  Notarized printed applications, copies of main passport pages, FBI background check, Portuguese criminal background check form, proof of health insurance, proof of income, declaration of intent (why you want to move to Portugal), reference in Portugal and passport photos (in addition to the one on your passport).  Whew.

Thank God for my new friend Simone who’s been living in Lisbon for the past year.  She let me use her address so that I could at least complete the online app to get the visa appointment.  In the fun part department, I will return to Lisbon and Porto at the beginning of September to find a place to live.

Then there is the process of getting Jiver, our dog, certified to be shipped over.  There is another set of rules about the timing of all his shots and letters of good health before we can take him.  All must be done in a specific order.  And we must fly 48 hours after completion of said shots and certs.  Happily, there is no quarantine, so we just need to make appointments at departing and arriving airports for him.  Holy moly, it’s a wonder anyone ever has the energy and persistence to leave the country.

This is Jiver. AKA Bubba, Wild Thing, Soccer Paws.

Then there is the issue of how to transport him.

I would love to find someone with a private jet who could fly us over. I hate the idea of having to shove Jiver in a box in the cargo portion of the plane. Meanwhile, back in reality. He is a nervous traveler and doesn’t do well on drugs. He was a service dog for most of his life. We inherited him when his person died two years ago. At eleven years old, he is not a spring chicken either. Dilemma.