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Mario (Mortadella) Gilberto Solano Quirós died Friday at the age of 58. His favourite place was sitting by his “cow”, an honour bestowed on him by the city of San José at the end of the cow festival.

COSTA RICA NEWS — He wasn’t a musician, but always had his guitar in hand. He wasn’t a singer, but he daily entertained passersby on the streets of downtown San José with his special kind of tunes. He will be missed.

Friday noon, doctors at the San Juan de Dios hospital confirmed the death of Mario Gilberto Solano Quirós, commonly known as Marito Mortadella, a street musician for over 40 years, who strummed his guitar and brought a smile to anyone who would stop to hear him “tararear“, a Spanish word for his special kind of singing, translated in English to “sing the melody of a song without the words.”

Marito was 58 years old when he suffered cardiac arrest Wednesday morning, collapsing in front of the Mercado Central on the “Bulevar”. After two days of hanging on, doctors announced his passing Friday.

La Nacion describes Marito as a “galán” (heartthrob) from beginning to end, always left his house well-groomed, with his little cap and never with a wrinkled shirt and pants, never missing an opportunity to “chat up the ladies”.

Although many foreigners saw him as just another street person (you really couldn’t call him a bum), Marito was a hard worker. He would be at his office – the Avenida Central (the Bulevar) – every day by 10:00am and be done by 4:00pm, when he would take the bus headed for home in Los Cuadros de Goicoechea, where he lived with his sister and cousin.

He never took his guitar home, nor most of his day’s earnings from his entertainment gig.

Sergio Sandoval, a worker at the Universal department store, told La Nacion that Marito would leave his guitar there for the night and pick it up in the morning. He also would leave on many occasions his earnings for the day, that could be as much as ¢20.000 to ¢30.000 colones. He feared that he would be robbed. His guitar was his livelihood.

Marito was a character, says Gloria Flores, a 48 year old vendor near the Mercado. She tells her story, when a few years ago they met formally for the first time. He came up to her, played her a tune, sang her a song and told her “we are no married”. “No ring, no proposal. Just a song and…done,” said Gloria.

“It was comical. He never asked me if I wanted to. One can see it as joke, because, if it were for real, I would be the woman most cheated on in the world,” recalled the vendor, hinting that Marito had many “pretendientes”, the Spanish word for suitors.

Marito would never stand for chump change, insisting on a proper tip for his entertainment. More insistent with women. “Eche, eche más plata, eche” (give more, more money, give) was not difficult for him to tell people.

Once the news hit of Marito’s passing, the Avenida Central went into mourning. At noon, a kind of silence overcame the hustle and bustle of the Bulevar, missing the strumming and tarareo of Marito Mortadella.

Marito’s brother, Rodolfo Solano said that they are still working out funeral plans.

Sources: La Nacion; AmeliaRueda.com; Canal 9


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