Madeleine – go straight to jail

It was a bit of a roller-coaster day today.

Yesterday, our gas went out, so no showers and no cooking on our hob. We had a tank of gas delivered, and things seemed better. The hob was working but the water boiler was not. Early this morning I fiddled around with this a that, and oh joy, our hot water boiler was restored to life. Hot water.

Then it was time for an appointment in Lagos. But our car was ambushed by the GNR at the pineapple roundabout in Luz. The message was that the GNR have been instructed to crack down on cars with foreign number plates that have not been through the import process in Portugal. In a nutshell, if you run a foreign car for 6 months plus in Portugal it is subject to import tax. That tax appears to be based on not the value of the car when you imported it, but the value it had when new.

So, we have a cheap and cheerful old workhorse, but we are going to get stuck with a bill based on its value when it was pristine 10 or 12 years ago. Oh, goodie.

In our move to Portelas, a lot of what we did when the kids moved in was based on having our work-beast around until we moved. You can take out the rear seats and then there is a cavernous space for large objects. That carrying capacity has just vanished.

Our car has been arrested. It was not permitted to pass go. It had to go straight to jail. We could not pick up £200. OK, the car is confined to our drive and we cannot take it anywhere.

There is of course a plan B. If one did not have a plan B in Portugal, one would not survive. A small antique runaround is now sitting on our drive. We own a trailer, so the larger items that remain will go across to Portelas on that.

As to the import charges, we will find out tomorrow what they will be before we decide what happens to our faithful steed. We have already been offered cash for it. There is an option to make it ‘disappear’ in Portugal. We can also simply drive it out of the country to relatives across the border. One rather odd ‘opportunity’ to avoid paying the import tax is that we can hand it over to the authorities. Then, without paying import tax, the authorities will give it to a school, to the bombeiros or to a GNR officer.

Guess what is going to happen?

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