This article takes an ethnographic look at processes of long-term and lingering crises. Building on longitudinal and transnational fieldwork with migrants from Bissau, the capital of Guinea-Bissau, it illuminates the ways that crisis may ramify across time and scale, thereby affecting everyday life, social relations and political dynamics. While the concept of ‘slow crisis’ sits uncomfortably within our common understanding of crisis as a momentary aberration and tipping point, the article clarifies how attending to the lingering and wandering effects of the phenomenon may grant us a fuller understanding of its temporality and social life. The article explores the way crisis is lived through a longitudinal study of Guinea-Bissauan migrants in Bissau, Lisbon and Paris. Via an ethnographic case study of a protracted and compound crisis, it illuminates the social deterioration, contraction and fragmentation that define such situations, and points to the common dynamics of crises as continuing critical conditions rather than singular aberrations.