We weren’t supposed to be in Taunton at all. I had persuaded Gicela (the woman in technology I celebrate today – and every day) to leave Mexico, and come with me to the UK, where we had met three years before.
The plan had been to save enough to put down a deposit and first month’s rent on a flat in London, and start the next chapter of our lives together here, where we paint our houses the colour of bad weather. But the crippling peso devaluation in December 1994 kicked that idea – and our immediate aspirations – into touch. We had to start all over again.
So there we were, in Taunton (where my parents live) on a wet and miserable January morning. Gicela picked up what must have been Issue 5 (or thereabouts) of Internet magazine from the shelves in WH Smith. The rest, as they say, is history. Faster than you can say World Wide Web Consortium, we were both enrolled on the EU-funded electronic publishing course at Hoxton Bibliotech. I was whisked along by Gicela’s enthusiasm for technology, as I have been pretty much ever since.
In early 1996, Gicela started work at The Guardian New Media Lab, which was led then by Bill Thompson. She later joined the small team at Microsoft who launched Expedia in the UK, before moving to a web start-up called e-garden, which faded and died as the dot com bubble burst. I’ve fished out this interview in Computer Weekly, from that time.
Gicela was born in Toliman, high up in the heartland of Mexico. As a young girl she used to gather up an armful of avocados and chillies harvested from her parents’ garden, to sell in the town plaza every Sunday morning. Some years later, just before we met, she graduated as an electronics engineer – the only woman in her year. She stayed on to teach, and I recall that she later shared her lab (on the very jungly edge of a Pacific coastal town) with tarantulas, as well as many less handsome male colleagues. Take my word for it, teaching electronics to a class full of young men in Mexico is no beach holiday.
So here we are, a decade and a half later. Gicela, thank you for the journey and happy fifteenth wedding anniversary. I’m so proud that in their mother, our two daughters have such a wonderful role model.
Love and respect. Forever.
Follow @gicela on Twitter.
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