John Krakauer – Escape to Lisbon

(Photo João Camilo)

Escape to Lisbon

You usually spend a month here every year?

Originally I wanted to stay all of August and September. Now I’d like to make sure that I’m always here in September. It’s tough, my team needs me.

Is there something you particularly like about this place?

There is a side of me that is happier existentially in Portugal than in the US. I’m leaving soon and I have a sudden dread of going back into that toxic maelstrom. I miss my husband, Omar, I love Hopkins and my people, and I miss my lab, but I love Champalimaud because I love the students and I love the atmosphere, and I think it’s beautiful.

And I also love it indirectly, because it gives me a chance to be in Lisbon. I am actually profoundly in love with Lisbon, I have to say. I love the fact that it’s come to kind of relative peace with its colonial history, doesn’t seem to be as torn apart as other countries are.

So I just like the whole organic mixture of an institute devoted to neuroscience plus where it is, plus that it’s on the water. It’s otherworldly! A lot of people who see where I am just don’t believe it.

Would you live and work here?

Yes. But I don’t think I could work here the whole year round because it doesn’t have the clinical human population that I want.
I’m not sure it has the scale to deal with what I’m trying to do. I’m embedded in a Universe where I think I can only escape here rather than be here. But that’s not in any way a criticism.

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