Because of me, Julio started attending regularly the opera. I remember how he would prepare weeks ahead by listening to cd’s and reading the libretti out loud. By the same token, Julio got me interested in flamenco. Because of him, I started appreciating flamenco: from the more traditional one, that Julio preferred, to the fusion or more innovative one. With Olalla, his dear friend, he followed faithfully the Ken Burns documentary on the history of jazz on PBS; to later discus in depth each episode.
In his profession, Julio liked also to undertake different experiences. He didn’t mind being a ‘generalist’ and he replied with some sort of pride “Everything!” when people would asked him what exactly he reported about in his work. During his first years in New York, though writing for El Mundo remained his main occupation, he explored different media; in particular television, with the short but exciting experiment of Conexión Financiera. He also ventured into online news; working for the pioneering company Starmedia. Julio was, first and foremost, a professional of the written word and somehow he knew that that was his strength. But he was so fascinated by the different ways to communicate that modern technologies have opened up, that he wanted to master them all. He loved the speed and effectiveness of online journalism and was particularly proud of El Mundo’s website (“the best and most visited of Spain”, he used to repeat to me). I remember that for the first online chat session with the readers of El Mundo he wanted me to take a picture of him in my office because a “real” office gave a more professional image than the living room in which he usually worked.
The life of correspondents can be rather lonely. They usually don’t have an office space and work from home; they live abroad and the majority of their acquaintances are colleagues from their country of origin and therefore also competitors with whom it is better not to communicate too much or too often. Julio broke this myth. He liked teamwork and built around himself a group of colleagues that was large, close-knit, fun, always in motion and in constant communication. At home (that was also his office) the television was always on with the volume turned off; the radio was always on, tuned on National Public Radio (that was also his alarm clock); the newspapers of the day were scattered between the desk and the floor with relevant articles torn (not cut) and set aside; the computer was always turned on and online; he wore the headset of the landline at all times; and his cell phone was constantly ringing. I could not understand how he could not go mad, let alone write articles on complex and difficult matters in the midst of that swirl of words, sounds and images. When I pointed that out to him, he replied that I could not understand because I was not a journalist and I used to write, the little I write, in the quietness of a library.