I don’t remember exactly when I met Marco. It must have been one of the first times I visited
. Each time I returned I could count on finding him at one of the usual spots and I could count on receiving a warm welcome. Marco was the unofficial social director for gay visitors to his town. He was always organizing something: a day trip to a nearby scenic locale, an afternoon at the casino, or a pool party at some wealthy acquaintance’s home. Puerto Vallarta
He never had a stable home of his own. He often stayed with an older French Canadian who spent winters in Vallarta. The rest of the year he spent a few days here, a week or two there, sometimes house sitting, sometimes staying with friends, sometimes perhaps doing whatever was necessary for a bed to sleep in. He did odd jobs to make pocket money. He often made the rounds of the beach and bars and popular restaurants handing out leaflets promoting various businesses that cater to gay tourists.
|New Year's Eve 2009|
When I received word that he had passed away a few weeks ago I felt that something precious was lost from my life. Not only had I lost a friend but one of my last links to Vallarta. I have written before about my changing relationship with Vallarta, a place that I once believed would be my future home. Vallarta is the place, and Marco was the person, who brought Luis into my life.
Over the course of two years Luis and I had one of the most romantic, volatile, passionate, disappointing and doomed relationships of my life. After it flamed out in a particularly painful episode, I cut off all communication with him. I did not respond to his emails and I rarely spoke of him, although I often thought of him. But the passing of Marco required that I break the silence. Luis is now in
and I could not be sure he would have heard the news. (He had not.) It’s as if Marco is still playing matchmaker. Mexico City
Marco died from AIDS. When I last saw him, this past April, he was thin and lacked energy, but seemed reasonably well. I was shocked that he was gone just 5 months later. I was also angered. In 1995 the number of AIDS deaths in the
peaked at over 50,000. Over the next two years the death rate fell dramatically and now hovers around 18,000. Seen another way, in 1995 AIDS was the leading cause of death for U.S. males between the ages of 25 and 44. Today it has fallen to fifth place, behind injury, heart disease, cancer, and suicide. Far too many, of course, but getting better. This trend is due to aggressive efforts at testing and treatment. The situation in U.S. is far different. Mexico
Although the rate of AIDS infection is far lower in
Mexico than in the , diagnosis and treatment lag behind. I could not find reliable data to prove it, but I am certain that the life expectancy for HIV infected people in United States Mexico is far lower than in the There are many reasons for this, including the inadequate health care available for the poor in that country. I’m not suggesting that AIDS is not still a devastating problem in the U.S. U.S. nor do I mean to imply that there is good health care for the poor in the But I suspect that Marco would still be with us if he had lived here rather than U.S. . Mexico
Whatever the implications of Marco’s passing, whatever the statistics are, the fact remains that a dear friend, a person with a good soul, has been taken from us. He will be missed.