Gina the scientist

Gina was an adventurer, dreamer, teacher, traveller, artist, and always a student, but most of all she was a scientist. She was inquisitive and intelligent, and not only tackled nearly intractable problems, but produced tangible, useful results. She was tactful and gentle with her students, yet commanded authority and was a powerful leader. The world has lost a truly important investigator.
Gina Holguin
Pass time with her husband naturally in the beach

It is fair to say that as her husband, I knew Gina in ways that no one else could. One thing is certain: she changed my life, and we had experiences I would never have had if I had not known her. She had travelled to Waterloo, Canada to earn her doctorate degree, and had only a few months left when we met. It was scientific interests that drew us together. A year later we married, and a couple weeks after that we went to Oak Ridge National Laboratories in Tennessee, where she was hired as a post-doc. We stayed in Oak Ridge only a few months because Gina realized that her new bossí interests did not coincide well with hers: she wanted to do research, and he was more interested in producing new technology for profit. We decided that she should return to CIBNOR, so in the summer of 2001, we packed it all up again and came to La Paz.

Gina and I travelled more together than I have in all the rest of my life. We travelled in Ontario, Tennessee, New York, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, California, Baja, Colima, Michoacan, Oaxaca, Vera Cruz, Puebla, Guanajuato, Coahuila, Durango, Aguascalientes, and Mexico City. We went to Australia for a month where we travelled and worked at the university at Brisbane. We were at the Iguazu Falls in Argentina and Brazil, and in Buenos Aires. We saw cathedrals, artwork, theatres, beaches, forests, mines, and cities. We climbed the volcano at Paricutan and the temples at Teotihuacan and Monte Alban, went to the markets, bought souvenirs, camped on the shore of Lake Superior, visited family, met new people, worked, and explored.

At home in La Paz, we lived through two hurricanes. We spent countless hours in the mangroves at Balandra, El Mogote, and Los Aripes, kayaking, taking samples, and photographing birds. We talked about scientific and environmental problems in Mexico, and tried to find ways to improve them. We hiked the hills around Matancitas and up the arroyos, and had dinner at the Capri, or the French Bistro. We often went to the movies in the Soriana Mall. We explored the huge cardons at Los Planes. Gina Holguin

Of course if I had not met Gina, I never would have learned Spanish. It was very difficult at first, but as my command of the language improved, our conversations became bilingual, and we would switch back and forth between the two languages. Sometimes she would talk in Spanish and I would respond in English. My work learning Spanish actually improved my English as well, because I learned the differences and similarities in the two languages.

Gina had a passion for science, and shared ideas with many other scientists worldwide. As a result, I got to meet many very interesting people. Her relationship with a researcher in Manzanillo created an opportunity for me to lead an English seminar at the university there. We went to Australia because Gina was invited to collaborate on investigation of the mangroves there, and I got the chance to contribute a little by working on a method of producing N15 marker gas. Her friends at the CIBNOR found projects for me to work on, and I even worked for a while editing papers there. I also got to teach English. Gina knew people at CICIMAR and I got work there too. I learned so much and did so many things I never dreamed of doing before.

Gina had been seriously ill even before we met, and had chronic problems with skin lesions. She just seemed prone to cancer. She began showing new symptoms when we were in Australia, shortly before our return to La Paz. When we got back, she went to 3 different doctors over the next month, and got 3 different opinions. More than once I told her to go to Torreon and get a good doctor to see her, but she refused. Neither of us wanted to admit that she might have cancer again. Finally one morning it was much worse, and she got scared and went to Torreon, where it was quickly established that the tumour on her ovary was now the size of a tennis ball, and was dangerously close to the intestine. To this day I donít understand how the doctors in La Paz failed to find it. In any case, I joined her in Torreon, and we stayed together in her room at the hospital until after the surgery and she was strong enough to come home. Over the next few weeks her counts continued to improve, and after a year had passed it appeared that she had fully recovered and had completely beaten the disease.
Gina Holguin
With her husband in La Paz

During the ordeal at the hospital, and for the rest of the time we were together, Gina repeatedly told me that if she ever got sick again that she would not submit to more medical treatment. She was determined to fight the disease herself, and I am not sure if she really thought she could beat it, or if she was just tired and resigned herself to dying if she got sick again. I told her this was nonsense, and of course she must continue to fight. It distressed me to hear this seemingly cavalier attitude towards her life, especially from her who savoured life so deeply. In all the time we were together, and through all the pain and inconvenience she suffered, she never complained for herself.

Gina and I knew many people together. Those who were close to us know that I loved her deeply and that neither of us was ever unfaithful, but that Gina and I had our problems, and that we had separated before she eventually became sick again. I donít know much about what happened when she finally became terminally ill, but I am not sure that anyone could have prevented her untimely death, and Gina seemed to understand this.

I have many fond memories of our time together that will stay with me forever, and anyone who knew Gina was touched by her. She leaves behind so many who cared for her, but the one who feels the loss most is Lorena, who is Ginaís sister, closest friend, trusted allay, and confidant, and who was always there for her, right up to the end.

Taylor Morey,
Ontario, Canada

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