Missing in the Algarve

Dear Editor

We have just had a really enjoyable week’s holiday in your beautiful part of the world, and think Portugal is exceptional as a safe, welcoming destination. Our experience was only marred by a bizarre encounter with your GNR police.

We walked out of Lagoa police station and had to pinch ourselves to make sure we were still in the real world!

To explain briefly, we were looking for my elderly uncle who I feared may have come to some harm. He wasn’t answering his telephone and he had agreed to meet us in Lagos two days before. We were worried. Thus we travelled down the coast to report his being ‘missing’ to police and ask for help finding his address (we only had a house name, a telephone number and an Apartado box number).

They could not have been less interested. We ended up being given a set of coordinates that Google Maps took us slightly off the coast of Tunisia. When we asked the policeman for his name, “in case we need to come back to you”, he waved his hands in horror and told the friend who had come to interpret: “I’m off in a while. I won’t be here.”

It was quite an eye-opener, and I would certainly hope that next time we come on holiday we don’t need to call on the services of the police for anything more than directions to the nearest restaurant.

Needless to say, we found my uncle. He had dislodged his phone connection doing the hoovering and had “completely forgotten” our plan to meet!

All I could say was “thank goodness”…

Nick Evans
Hampstead, London