A visit with Mario Camartino in Parque Chacabuco

I was passing by the cafe two blocks from my apartment yesterday and recognized Carlos Greco’s curly hair as he was seated at a table with a group of friends.  I tapped on the window to get his attention, and he came outside to talk with me.  The Mistica Cafe Bar is where I regularly saw Carlos with Roberto Bonavota, both of whom I know from the milongas.  Carlos wasn’t wearing a mask and neither was I, but that was not a problem for either one of us.  He greeted me and then we embraced one another.  He hasn’t danced in two years.

Carlos seemed cheerful as always.  I didn’t see Roberto at the table, so I asked Carlos about him.  He reported the news, that after being hospitalized, Roberto Bonavota passed on in January.

February 2020 was the last time I saw Roberto at the Mistica Cafe at the corner of Av. Independencia and Pichincha.

I walked three blocks to catch 126 to Parque Chacabuco where Mario has been living since January, so he is closer to his daughter Gabriela’s house.

My timing was perfect.  The cleaning lady was leaving at the same time I arrived.  Mario came down to the entrance of the high rise apartment building to greet me.  When his wife passed on in January, Mario’s daughter rented a fifth floor apartment with a northern exposure for him.

When I arrived at the building, I thought to myself, I would love to live here, but can’t afford to. The area around the building has a garden with benches, and is impeccably maintained.

Mario lives a two-bedroom apartment with a balcony with all the furnishings from his former home in Lugano.  He has an impressive music collection of LPs and cassette tapes of tango and jazz.  As Mario told me a story about each of the framed pictures on the bookcase, I had to take photos to share here.

Mario received this certificate on a Night of Milongueros organized by Oscar Hector Malagrino.

Mario wore a suit when he was only five years old!  Isn’t he darling?

This is a photo from his daughter Gabriela’s wedding.

Cuqui is one of Mario’s favorite tango partners.

Mario’s wedding photo.  Now that’s a handsome couple!

Bonsai is one of Mario’s hobbies.  That little tree in the center is actually an ombu that he has kept from growing to full size.

Mario has lots of plants to tend in his balcony garden.

We sat at the dining room table where I filmed Mario talking about work and the milongas for two hours.

Then he put on some romantic music by one of his favorite singers. He opened his arms and I entered his embrace.  I closed my eyes and was in another place. It was a surprise that we were dancing since Mario has back and knee problems.  I hope he will be able to dance in Nuevo Gricel one day soon.

The bus stop was only a half a block away, but Mario escorted me there.  I kissed him on the cheek and thanked him for the evening.

Mario will turn 93 on October 10th.  Can you  believe it? I can’t.

4 Responses to “A visit with Mario Camartino in Parque Chacabuco”

  1. tangogeoff Says:


  2. jantango Says:

    Mario loves sharing his experiences, and I enjoyed listening behind the camera while recording him for two hours. His memory is sharp, and he is so full of joy. The videos will be uploaded to my YouTube channel. His family now has a recorded history of his life.

  3. suerteloca Says:

    Wow! Did you ask if he smoked that cigarette when he was five? Maybe that’s the secret.

  4. jantango Says:

    Ah, you noticed what was in his hand as I did. I’ll have to ask Mario about it.

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