José Luis, as always

18/06/2023

I told you. That you should not die, dammit. That if you did, you would stay calm but the work you were going to give to the rest of us... But you, as always, doing things your way. And here I am, writing you a blog entry instead of summarizing the WordCamp Europe (or the one in Lisbon, or the one in Barcelona, where EVERYONE asked me about you as soon as they saw me).

I met you at the WordPress Pontevedra meetup in May 2017, as Wajari tells in his fantastic post. Your entrance was unique, as always. Africa from Arroelo coworking came to tell me that there was "an old man with some canes" coming to the event and if I let him in, because there was still an hour to go. I was still setting up chairs, preparing the table for the snack, and I told him no problem.

And there you came, wearing a fisherman's cap, two walking sticks, suspenders, a sash to keep your body in human form and a strange accent: "Sorry I'm early, but I didn't know how long it would take from where I left the car parked so I came early. Can I help with anything? Shall I put chairs?". How could I let you carry chairs if it looked like you were going to dismount on the third step. We chatted for an hour until the rest of the people arrived. Well, you were talking for an hour, probably, as usual.

Month by month, the older gentleman who talked a lot became an important part of my life and that of everyone he met in the group. And everyone he met in the group. Did you need anything? There he was. Didn't you need anything? He was there too, just in case.

And so, without realizing it, you had become our family. We went on route to the meetups in Galicia. Infinite trips to Ourense (with a stop in Cea), to Santiago, to Vigo (yes, you did it infinitely too if we let you). And soon you discovered the WordCamps. Oh, the WordCamps. How these events changed you, huh? You met hundreds of people all over the country and amazed them with your tireless work, your anecdotes, your memories and your smile.

José Luis at a WordCamp doing what he did best: volunteering, logistics and helping out with everything
José Luis at a WordCamp doing what he did best: volunteering, logistics and helping out with everything

But do you know what your family from Pontevedra liked the most? When you would come back to have a beer or a coffee with us and you would grumble and complain. Because our José Luis was a grumbler. But only from the inside. And of course, what more did we want than to tease you at the slightest opportunity.

You started calling me "Ilustrísimo Señor Hernando, Conde das Rías de Pontevedra e Vigo y futuro Marqués das Rias Baixas y Señor de Braga". Then we went on to "Juan, de apellido Hernando, Conde de Pontevedra, Marques das Rías Baixas e parte das Altas". You were also a mocker, of course. You left without seeing me with the following nickname. I was the President of Pontevedra, the President Emeritus and now no more and no less than the President of Europe.

I know you are proud of me, especially of my ability to get into bigger and bigger trouble with that innocence of being able to change things for the better and to do what can't be done because no one told us it was impossible. And having fun. That was always our plan. And we were not bad at it, were we?

I remember traveling to WordCamp in Porto in 2018 the two of us in your van where you started telling me about all the jobs you had done in your life. We would have needed fifty more trips for you to tell me everything. What a guy.

At that time we were planning our first WordCamp in Pontevedra and looking for sponsorship money. When you approached a person from Yoast (who wasn't even a worker, but you didn't care, as always) and said "we want your money, your money", I almost felt sick. And who was going to tell you that later they were going to give you five hundred euros that you spent on gasoline, remember?

I couldn't write all the anecdotes and all the memories I have with you because you know there are too many. And me, a bit lazy. Although you always told me that you didn't want to bother me when you came to Pontevedra because I was a busy man and I had to raise the country. Bullshit, José Luis, I didn't want to be a busy man. And even less if I knew that I would no longer be able to have coffee with you or our pinchos de tortilla "at the bar above the Hiperfroiz".

I know everything went as you and your body had planned, as always. But I can only curse the pandemic because it stole your drug which was the people you were helping all over the world (even though you still did it incredibly online). In February 2020 we recorded this video shortly before going to the WordCamp in Valladolid, which would be the last one in a long time, planning to go to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to learn and enjoy.

A video of us inviting people to the WC in Las Palmas that never took place

And now what do we do without you, damn you? You have written the call for speakers for WordCamp Pontevedra 2023 but how are we going to choose them without your help? Who is going to invite thirty volunteers from all over Spain to come and then we have problems to choose them? To the volunteers! And who is going to organize them with your spreadsheet that nobody understands? How do we do the shifts? And these questions will not be answered in the official support forum, which you have also left orphaned after your more than six thousand answers to solve problems to strangers, just to help, as always.

And yes, we will sign your son, of whom you always spoke so proudly, we will not let him go even if he does not have a white beard and gives less play at the Christmas meetups. But you have set the bar too high for all of us. We will do our best, you know that too.

José Luis and his musketeers, choosing papers at Sabela's house
José Luis and his musketeers, choosing papers at Sabela's house

You always went to the limit and beyond. You were the perfect example of community. Of giving without expecting to receive. Of putting the good of all before the good of the individual. We all learned a lot from you. Even how to choose the strangest possible accommodations in every city we traveled to together.

Thank goodness that for Valencia you gave your arm to twist and let me choose something better than what you had prepared for me, if not, we might not count it. Thank you for teaching me the tricks of the airports and making me experience things that I didn't think that a simple walking stick could teach you, either thanks to AENA or thanks to an after party in Cantabria.

Our last WordCamp together in Valencia, with airport adventure included.
Our last WordCamp together in Valencia, with airport adventure included.

I was very excited that you came to the May 2023 meetup. That you were able to catch the date between hospital admissions. I didn't make you come out to speak in front of everyone because you were already moving with difficulty, although I know you would have loved to do it. To say your favorite presentation "I'm nobody, I don't do anything, I only come to these events because I'm bored, and in case there is something I can help with".

You have helped so many people that everyone can hear these words in your voice. For those who didn't know you, imagine that this man offered to take me to Santoña at Christmas so I wouldn't have to go by bus or train. He said to me "Let's see, it's not that bad, it's six hours by car there, and then six hours here... on the way back I can stop to see someone or take a detour to Valladolid or Madrid or whatever...". And he meant it. Although I never let him do that, obviously.

Last meetup you came to: May 2023, just six years after meeting you
The last meetup you came to: May 2023, just six years after I met you, and your canes sticking out of my head.

And now you are gone, and who am I going to argue with about the word deputy and its translation into Spanish (which, by the way, we are about to change). Or about your obsession with all the speakers using Google Presentations (how you got me this year). Or about how to act in certain situations and with certain people. For me, those times that after a couple of days meditating you agreed with me when you were no longer in the heat of the moment were huge victories, because they were rare and because of who they came from. And when I had to agree with you... you were always a gentleman, but that little smile of "the fox knows more for an old man than for a fox" I never took it away from you.

I told you, José Luis, don't die because now hundreds of people will want to pay tribute to you and in the end we are the ones who will end up working. You already know that I wanted to create a fund to be able to pay for volunteers like you to travel to WordCamps to help, as you always did. That even if you didn't recognize it, you opened many doors for people young, old, men, women, children, with money or without resources to our community. Because you were good to everyone but you knew how to recognize who needed help the most.

And that it makes me very sad to have to write all this, for fuck's sake. You are stubborn, as always. Damn José Luis. Thanks for being part of our lives. We are going to miss you a lot. Very much. As always when you were away. As always.

18 reactions to "José Luis, as always".

  1. Yes, we will miss him.

    Thanks for this Juan, I love all the memories that we share with José Luis make me laugh with desire, is that it is not for less, what moments milk.

    Come on, see you soon.

    1. I really want to give you a hug, Fernando. We have lost a great one, but he has left us a good instruction book with his example to try to be something like him. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Precious memories and a well-deserved tribute. What a great job the guy has done for us. And how much we are going to miss him, with the war he gave ... a big hug, Mr. President.

    1. It was going to be his birthday tomorrow, the guy just to not blow out the candles, look what he has done, the mother who bore him. A big hug, Don Pablo.

  3. My God Juan, reading you and Wajari has been like having him in front of me again. I could almost hear him, that tone of voice and accent so characteristic.

    The guy was a unique case. He could be made into a movie, or a book at the very least.

    He will be sorely missed, of course.

    Thank you very much for giving us these anecdotes Juan.

    A hug, President of Europe.

    1. Another hug for you, Jesus. The good thing is that he was so unique that we will be uncovering anecdotes for years to come every time we meet, because it was his way of life. Thanks to you for sharing!

  4. There are people who quickly enter our lives, who without making much physical noise impose the dictatorship of their person in the space they fill, who without desire for prominence monopolize all eyes, who leave as they came, limping, silent, sitting in the background, without saying a word, but giving inaudible cries ... José Luis has passed through our lives, lucky those of you who had him close and us who knew him from a glimpse, in my case, from Granada 2018. In 5 or 6 years he has made as much of a dent as the one he has left us. Let's enjoy his story and continue to remember it.
    A hug, Juan.

    1. Another big hug for you, José. The guy has left us anecdotes to remember for many many many many WordCamps, that's the good thing, see you!

  5. I met Jose Luis at several WordCamps and, above all, at a WordCamp in Bilbao where he came from so far away just to help without expecting anything in return.

    He was a person no one could ever speak ill of. Only good words. I wish we all left a legacy as good as his.

    A hug Juan!

    1. Thanks, Fernan! The truth is that the guy made some spectacular routes throughout Spain with the excuse of volunteering. A big hug for you too.

    2. Joer macho José Luis, jo Juan Hernando. 😢. Look if you have had to work that you have written such a nice post that jo. Can you lend a hand with something in Pontevedra?

  6. I agree, Jose Luis's entrance to any site was always singular. "Ilustrísimo Señor Hernando, Conde das Rías de Pontevedra e Vigo" as I see you will miss me calling you like that, I can make the attempt so you don't lose the habit. We can make it a rule in the meetups xD

    I am also very sorry that he has not seen your new role as president of WordPress in Europe. I think that if he knows about it he will roll up his sleeves for another year and come to Torino in spite of his pains, just to see you.

    What a memorable guy. Thanks for sharing your vision and that beautiful video invitation to Las Palmas. Best regards

    1. Just call me Juan, with the last name of Hernando, and you know that's enough for me. I'm sure that classified documents about JL will continue to come out and will bring back many memories... the guy was a photogenic bastard...

      A big hug, Mr. President.

  7. What a nice story, Juan :-) I laughed with the "we want your money" 😂😂😂😂 And the 'I'm nobody, I do nothing', a great man like him... can you be more endearing? I don't think so.

    What a pity he is no more, but how lucky to have been so close to him and to have lived all this. Thank you for sharing it, a hug

    1. Thanks, Natalia! Apart is that this anecdote starts with "if I know people from Yoast, let me" when he really did not know anyone, just knew that they were all with a purple polo shirt, and approached the first one he saw hahahah. A big hug!

  8. Thank you Juan for sharing all those beautiful memories, It is still silent and the good thing is that now you can no longer leave! A big hug!

  9. How many anecdotes don Juan, how much time has passed since that talk of Citizen B "The battle of WordPress plugins: the definitive list" in which you were accompanied by an old man with a cane and gave me the opportunity to meet the great José Luis(https://www.meetup.com/es-ES/wordpresslugo/photos/27948872/). So many anecdotes to tell, so many good moments, laughs, trips...

    Thank you for writing these memorable words Don Juan, President of Europe; José Luis will be very proud of you wherever he is.

    See you soon, hugs.

  10. Juan, my friend. I read the messages on the Spanish Slack, then the post published by Jesus Yesares and Wajari and finally, your own article with great emotion.

    I was affected even more than I should have been, even though I only crossed José Luis' solar journey when I noticed this strange Spanish man with braces and his long beard at WordCamp Europe 2022 in Porto.

    Through the various homages paid, I can see the greatness of the man (even if, as I understand it, this only covers a portion of his long and fulfilling life) and, beyond that, the tribute to the tireless work of all the volunteers/organisers of our local/national/global communities. All those people who donate their time and energy tirelessly, and who ultimately create happiness.

    José Luis seems to have been the perfect example of these people driven by the desire to provide the public with welcoming spaces where they can collaborate easily and bring people together. After all, isn't that what opensource is all about? We need more José Luis in our lives.

    Bon voyage José Luis, tu manques à tes amis (Farewell José Luis, your friends are missing you).

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