The time was ripe and I certainly was prepared. I had passed my exams of Portugal’s comprehensive 9 year school system sometime in July/August. I should carry on with my studies in England. Awaiting all boys at that time was the obligatory military service. Due to lack of officers and soldiers for the enormous colonial territory in Africa, Portugal was meant to defend from ever growing independent movements, these periods were getting longer. That argument helped my father come to terms with my departure.
I spent part of my holiday fixing the necessary documents. I needed a passport, a military licence and a student’s flight. I am convinced some degree of lying was needed to get the three months license to travel abroad.
The day arrived. My father, who owned and drove a car, came to get me. Hardest was to depart of my grandmother Bua, already in her eighties. I looked for my cat Silvestre that had been with us since I could remember. We looked under the cars parked in the Praceta but never found him for a last farewell.
The Marginal road gave a good view of the Lisbon coast. When would I ever see it again? We drove under the Salazar Bridge that my father helped to build. He told me about his own immigration plans. That did not increase my wish to stay!