I hope you had a lovely St.Patrick’s Weekend! I made a green shamrock to celebrate but it looks more like a green ace of clubs… and I had a very trying experience purchasing an electronic toll card online. It’s a long and winding story… Like at home there are toll booths and there are free-flowing electronic tolls that read your licence number here in Portugal. When we arrived in February at the town of Chaves we stopped at their electronic toll setup machine for foreigners. There we connected our credit card to our camper van number plate and off we went with our legal receipt. Simple. Easy.
Then on Saturday morning something woke me up early and made me look at the receipt. It was about to expire. It has expired today. No problem, there was a phone number at the bottom of the receipt, I’d ring and extend the validity date. I could handle this. I rang the number and the man who answered spoke perfect English. Perfect enough to make it clear that I could not extend the validity date. But… I could purchase a toll card at the post office on Monday or online anytime.
Rather than wait until Monday (mistake number one) I went online to purchase the card (mistake number two). There was a very helpful site with Frequently Asked Questions and both the questions and the answers were very helpfully in English. Unfortunately, when I clicked on BUY the card I was linked to the Portuguese Post Office website. I love the Portuguese Post Office. They have patiently sold me stamps and envelopes and delivered (in super quick time) my letters and cards. Nevertheless, I do not like their website. It’s in Portuguese (naturally) and no matter how much I want to believe I could possibly recognise some words I cannot actually recognise any words…
But you will remember Google Translate? The app on my phone that will translate typed words into English? I was working on this problem for an hour by now and although I was losing the will to live I kept going and eventually I bought the card! Yay! And I successfully connected the card to our licence plate! Yay! Then I proceeded to connect the card to my phone so that I could check the balance and keep it topped up and completely legal while we drove in Portugal.
That’s when the post office website changed the language to Spanish… Google translate was giving me some odd translations about monsters and caves. That was my first hint something bad was happening (I thought I was just losing my mind.) And yet I kept going turning the language back to Portuguese while wishing their English language button would suddenly come to life (but no…)
I never did get to connect the online card to my phone.. we might possibly be driving around illegally. On top of that there was a message – in English – on the card: PLACE IT VISIBLY ON (VEHICLE’S) DASHBOARD…. We may have to put the laptop in the windscreen for the rest of our stay in Portugal… somebody forgot to bring the power cord for the printer so we can’t print the card.
Step 13. Always wait until Monday, Mairead.