Commit to the Crossing


This week I traveled from Porto to Lisbon for my orientation at Fulbright and at the American Embassy.

I will write a longer blog about this experience.  It was an amazing two days.  I am so fortunate to be an American here in Portugal at this moment in time.

I wanted to describe about the light in Lisboa.  I don’t know why, but the light is different there from any other city that I have been in, including Porto, San Francisco and other cities similar in geography.  It may be the white tiled streets.  It may also be that pollution is not a problem in Lisboa as it is in similar sized cities.  I am not sure of the science behind it but the light is sparkling in Lisboa. That sounds Disneyesque but it is true.  The sunlight sparkles and there is no good way to capture this in prose or photo.  You must visit it to see it yourself. 

Finally, —Thankfully I am in a country where the Embassy security briefing focuses more on theft and crossing the street than terror attacks.  But crossing the street is a tricky business here.  Some years ago, pedestrians were getting hit so the government instituted a strict rule on cross walks and drivers stopping.  As a life-long jaywalker, I’ve had to adjust my behavior to crossing at the cross walks.  However, the embassy and Fulbright staff told me that “once you decide to cross at the cross walk, you must be fully committed”. What that means is that when the taxi coming at you at 60 miles per hour (because people drive fast here on streets), that once your feet leave the curb, YOU CANNOT STOP—YOU MUST COMMIT TO THE CROSSING.   You ignore the commands coming from the most ancient part of your brain telling you to haul yourself back up onto the sidewalk because that car will kill you.  You must stride confidently into the path of the speeding taxi and not pause because otherwise he will scream at you “Nao paragem”!!!!!  (don’t stop) as he breaks the car a nanosecond before hitting you because you paused mid-stride and hesitated, seeing your life flash before your eyes.

Perhaps it is a metaphor for my time in Porto.  Fully commit to the crossing.


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