Stamps are the perfect metaphor for Portuguese public administration. These are the stamps I bought last Tuesday at the flea market. They remind me public administration offices some years back were you would always here the sound of civil servants hammering down on stamps, dating and authenticating stuff. It would take you an entire day to do whatever it is you needed done and you were very thankful in the end that it didn't take you longer! I remember the finance office in Viana: a damp place with a florescent lit atmosphere and green plants in brown plastic vases to make it look more "cheerful", where very frustrated people worked around piles and piles of paper work.
Yesterday I spent my lovely afternoon amongst public administration. Although the physical spaces are quite different and you don't hear the hammering of stamps, I waited for 2 hours and then I gave up and went home. The stamps might be gone but the metaphor remains.