TODAY’S PHOTO : Thanks to Tobi … Vânia Fernandes, Madeira’s most famous daughter (currently), who sang throughout the flower festival parade on Sunday, when Tobi snapped her.
Front Page News : main source : Diário de Notícias 30/4/2009
Yesterday’s main headline : ‘Three Months Here, One Month Abroad – The auditors report about President Jardim’s secret journeys in 2008 awakens a reality much commented on and that continues this year : In the first four months of this year, the president was already absent for one month, costing the taxpayers over €40,000. Amongst the exorbitant expenses, is €9,000 spent on a hire car and driver for a week. The auditors have also picked-up on a weeks stay in Europe, to attend a meeting that only lasted 4 hours’. Some budding artist has done a sketch of Jardim, setting off with his wheeled suitcase. The Diário estimate is that Uncle Bertie, based on what has happened so far, will be off of Madeira for 4 months this year, including holidays. I am not surprised this story, that originated on Tuesday, has now reached the front page. It is littered with examples of what Jardim has spent, and where he has been. It has been reported several time during the last year or so that President Jardim (and some of his cronies) have disappeared without explanation. The president of Madeira is obliged to declare such movements to the regional assembly, but like everything else, he makes up his own rules to please himself. You’re taking the p**s Uncle Bertie, while many of your loyal subjects can’t even afford to put food on their tables!
‘State Gives Out €10 Million In Incentives To Agriculture’. That’s what the headline says, but when you click to go to the article itself, it says that the money is for tourism, rural tourism. The money has been obtained by the secretary of state for tourism, and will be announced officially on Tuesday. Although no details are known yet about this system of incentives, the Tourism Association has already made public that it is “an important instrument to support the recovery of tourism businesses”.
Back to Serra da Água, the featured village this week. ‘Footpaths Shown On Maps Are Disappearing Due To Lack Of Maintenance – Hotel worker tells some stories heard from tourists in Serra de Água’. Lying in a deep valley, it is essential for tourists to pass through Serra de Água in order to get to Encumeada and Paul da Serra. A table waiter in the Pousada dos Vinháticos recounts tales of tourists who visit Pico Redondo, only to find that the path on their map no longer exists. Lack of maintenance is to blame, as the thriving undergrowth just swallows the path up, leaving visitors lost, stranded, and embarrassed. The situation is almost as bad with the footpath from Lombo do Muro towards Fajã das Éguas. One of the reasons for the paths getting overgrown was following the order for the removal of livestock from the mountains, which until that time helped to keep the paths clear. I vaguely remember that from at least 5 years ago, when sheep were taken from their open mountainside pastures because they were causing to much damage. I believe that’s the reason why lamb meat is rarely found in the shops, but not certain.
A Madeiran from Boaventura was murdered in Venezuela, in front of his wife. The shopkeeper was outside his premises when the shooting occurred.
‘Beach Lifeguards Scarce – Lack of candidates lead to predictions of shortages during the Summer, and failure to meet the minimum numbers required by law’. The law, which applies from this year, obliges the presence of two lifeguards per stretch of 100 metres of beach, with one more for each 50 metres. With the latest training course cancelled due to lack of candidates, the article says that youngsters are losing interest in becoming lifeguards, a situation not aided by the fact that the costs of the training course have increased by 70% this year. An estimated half the usual number of lifeguards available is expected to be missing this year. Funchal alone usually requires 34 lifeguards during the four month Summer season. It’s old recycled news, and as normal it will all be left to the last minute before panic sets in when the kids take to the water for the Summer Holidays. Can you imagine the situation on Porto Santo!
In yesterday’s sport story. ‘Success In The Centenary Year To Erase The Frustration Of This Year – Carlos Pereira takes over (today) as the longest ever serving presidency at Marítimo. A frustrating season, but the commitment is to celebrate 100 years with a new stadium and Europe’. Enough said?
Other News :
*** This link is purely to keep a record for future reference of the location of the letter to the President of the Republic, from the World Association of Newspapers. The letter has already been published in full on the blog comments : WAN Letter ***
The sex education program in our schools is to be revised, after it was noticed that the students, between 5th and 9th grades, were not always feeling too comfortable. The girls being quite shy on the matter, and the boys were having difficulties in sharing opinions, despite being more at ease on the subject. The program covers what one would expect, and includes teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and also how to tackle sexual abuse.
At a press conference on the swine flu, the state minister for health was able to say that there are no confirmed cases yet in Portugal, although the girl in Porto Hospital is still undergoing diagnosis. She also informed the media that Portugal has sufficient protective masks for the whole population, should there be a pandemic situation declared.
In São Roque last month a flock of 3 rabbits was born in captivity. One has the usual two ears, another has just one ear, and the third has no ears at all. Is this natures way of helping mothers identify their different offspring, or were they just born with ‘earing defects? The rather surreal looking picture is here : Rabbit Ears
An EU survey has found that 74% of Brazilians and 60% of sub-saharan Africans believe they are discriminated against in Portugal, due to their ethnic status or country of birth. There is no more to the story than that. That’s life, and that applies to anyone living in a foreign country. I can’t get an identity card, and you would think the government would want me to have one, as by law I have to carry ID with me at all times. I can carry my Residency Permit with me, but as it is a paper document that has to last 10 years, I don’t think that is going to survive for very long (and having it ‘plasticised’ is now forbidden).
This weekends football … what a thriller!
Saturday Nacional host Benfica, 8.45pm on RTP1. On Sunday Marítimo host Porto, SportTV1 at 8.15pm.
Our traditionally rainy month didn’t come yet here in Rib. Bra. a few spots here and there, but nothing like last year. Anyone else have a pretty dry month?
ENJOY YOUR PUBLIC HOLIDAY TODAY – MY NEW SPONSOR SAYS I HAVE TO WORK EVERYDAY, SO THINK OF ME WHEN YOU HAVE AN ICE CREAM IN ONE HAND AND AN ICE COLD CORAL IN THE OTHER.
Part 2 – Going to hospital outside of Madeira (continued from Sunday).
Wednesday morning arrived, and I hadn’t slept more than about an hour, partly due to nerves. The taxi arrived to take me to the airport and I felt like a zombie (at least I would imagine
it would feel something like that). All went fine at the airport, and the reservation was found for me, and the flight was on time. I flew with TAP (there are no other options for Porto), with the flight taking about a hour and 40 minutes. I was very impressed with the plane and flight, but there again I had no luggage to lose. Newspapers, breakfast, drinks, leg room, comfortable seats … just like the old days before budget airways arrived. But there again, I had looked at the price of the tickets on the internet, just out of curiosity, and the total was nearly €400! Porto airport was very nice, clean, spacious, underused, and easy to find ones way around. I was expecting to catch a taxi, but I saw a sign for the metro and thought why not! That was quite easy too, though the ticket machine needed plenty of coaxing to spit out a day-rider ticket (€5.60). The metro was very nice and easy to use, and although I didn’t have much Idea where I was going, it was easy to hop on and off with a day-rider ticket. It was on the first metro that I noticed that the end of the line destination was ‘Estadio do Dragão’, way out of the city, but what the hell! So I went … that was my treat for the day, to see the stadium of Portugal’s greatest football team. I was out of luck as I couldn’t get in the inner stadium to touch the sacred turf, just my luck as Wednesday was the only day one couldn’t get to do so, but you could walk freely around the massive outer stadium at an elevated level and look inside. I even treated myself to a Porto boné, a bargain at just €4!
That done, it was back on the metro to find my destination, and two or three unnecessary journeys later, I was at the correct station to set off on foot. I found the the street I was looking for, and the first house number I saw was around 2500 … I was looking for number 668 … a bit of a long walk ahead I thought. An hour later, I found the consultants office after a good long walk, all uphill, in sweltering conditions. On the way up, I received a phone call from a lady from a patients support group based in Porto. I had been given her number in case I had any problems, and also to ring to make my return flight reservation, as I had no idea if I was staying for a day or a week at that stage. She was absolutely brilliant, and she rang me 4 or 5 times during the day to make sure I was OK, and did I need anything. She even rang the consultant when I was there to check everything was OK. She told me that my appointment was at 3pm, so I had about 4 nerve-racking hours to kill. Thank you Mariana, without your support and reassurance it might have been a horrible day.
I took lunch (3 courses, a fruit juice and coffee, for just €5), which barely dented my daily allowance, and then wandered up and down streets until my appointment time arrived. All went well in the consultants, and in fact better still, he decided that the treatment I went there to have was not in fact necessary, so I was well chuffed. I think the paperwork involved took twice as long as the consultation itself, and one notices that the controls around medical care and the health service are very strict, with every step of anything costing money being double checked, stamped, and verified. I was done soon after 4pm, and Mariana was on the phone again to see if she could book my return flight, which she did, departing at 10.25pm as there was nothing earlier. I had about 5 hours to kill before going back to the airport, so then it was all down to sightseeing. I didn’t like Porto much, but I don’t like any big cities, so don’t take my word for it whether it is good or bad. Plenty of nice architecture, and things to do but I won’t bore you with the details. The evening meal, paid for by the state, went down very well too. I was on a meal allowance of €18 per day, which was more than adequate. From there the travel arrangements all went to plan, and I arrived back on Madeira just after midnight, and my prearranged taxi was waiting for me (not surprising as he was charging the health service over €115 for the return journey to Rib. Bra.). I think the only problem I had all day, but only thanks to Mariana’s help, was finding metro stations, as they were hidden away with little or no signage. But that gave me the excuse to stop and ask directions, probably at least 20 times during the day … and I concluded that it’s is so much easier to understand Portuguese on the continent than it is on Madeira.
So at the end of it all, it was a good result in more ways than one. No treatment needed, and a nice day out, (nearly *) all paid for by the state. The people involved in arranging it all and taking care of me were fantastic, and did much more than I ever expected. It was only the doctor in Funchal Hospital, who initially refused me treatment, that threw a shadow over what was otherwise quite a good experience. I do feel a little guilty however about having spent so much state money, in what turned out to be an unnecessary trip.
* When I went to Funchal on Monday to sort out the paperwork and expenses, it turned out that they only reimburse 75% of the taxi fares to get to the airport. As I hadn’t yet paid the taxi driver the €115 I owed, I popped out to see him to see what he thought, and we came to a satisfactory payment arrangement without any problem.
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