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“In the country, we are obliged to know a little of everything”

Salomé Archer Mendes was born in Coimbra, in a family related to the Law. Today she is a private notary in Benavente and considers herself completely rooted in Ribatejo. She is a fan of bullfighting and has many of her customers in this area. Whenever she can, she supports local institutions of the land that welcomed her with open arms and which she no longer plans to leave.  

I have a photographic memory so I memorize everything I read. In the 1st grade there was a teacher who was not qualified to teach and would beat us if we got things wrong. As I was afraid of being punished and since she couldn't teach us to read, I learned to memorize the texts associated with the images and to know what I had to say when she asked.

Even today I am able to memorize an entire document as long as it is on paper. On the computer I might read ten times but I can't decorate, so I print everything. While driving, I train my memory by decorating the license plates of the cars I come across.

When I was a little girl I dreamed of becoming a singer but my voice was terrible. I was very fond of traditional music, folklore and also French music. As I had no talent for being an artist, I chose to pursue Law.

My father told me that he would only pay for my studies if I went to a public college. If I wanted to attend a private College, I would have to pay for my studies. I will have the same attitude with my son Frederico. I want him to attend public schools because teaching is better there and more effort is needed in order to achieve good results.

My grandmother is the oldest female registered lawyer in Portugal. My family is very close to the Law. I chose the notary service because there is a greater proximity to people. As I like to work alone and wanted to start “from scratch” and without anyone's influence, I decided that I didn't want to live and work in Coimbra. I went through Évora, Montijo, Salvaterra de Magos and Alpiarça and finally came to Benavente.

I prefer working in the countryside because there is more contact with people. I feel that I can give the people more because the populations are more unprotected and need more advice. In Lisbon there are many notaries and lawyers, but not so many in the countryside, and it is in the countryside that the most difficult cases arise, which force us to know a little of everything.

Everything I have today in my registry has been achieved from scratch. The business started small and grew with a lot of sweat and work. In the meantime, I managed to change the furniture I started with and donated the old one to the Benavente Firefighters, just as I try to support other local institutions.

I believe that if we don't go through difficulties in life we won't evolve. Had I stayed in Coimbra I would have had a lot of facilities in my career, but it would not help me to evolve, which was what I wanted when I came to Benavente. And one of the main difficulties I went through was to be a mother. I tried to get pregnant for ten years before having my first child, Frederico, who is now nine years old. The doctors all told me that I would never be able to become a mother, and this only proves that we can never give up, even when we are told otherwise.

For 2018 I aim to have one day a month of free advice at the registry office. I intend to help those who are unable to pay. For 2019 I have another objective: I was invited by the University of Coimbra to write a book of practical cases of my career as a notary.

As I work almost every weekend, my hobbies are very reduced. I make the most of being with my children and the rest of my family, walking with them and visiting places we like. I also enjoy hiking in the mountains, but my favorite hobby to relax is cooking. And whenever I can I go to a bullfight race which is something I love.

I take the opportunity to travel whenever I can. Whenever there are congresses within the area of my profession, I attend them. I have traveled in Europe and other continents and have friends in several countries, with whom I exchange work advice. We make new friends all our lives but I still have friends from 40 years ago.

In Coimbra we are better served at the hospital level but in Benavente I have a better quality of life. If I were in Coimbra I would have greater support from my family, but in Benavente I have a closer relationship with and feel that I can do more for my clients. Every day I learn something new from the cases that I follow and I always try to improve myself because we have something to learn from all the people we come across.

Despite following the news from national media, I always follow regional media more closely. I like printed newspapers very much and I always have them at home for my children to get used to the touch and start liking them too.

News extracted in full from the newspaper "O Mirante"

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