The executive editor G. Barry Golson has drafted me to hand carry the interview to Mexico and do whatever was necessary in trying to track down the suddenly disappeared author and get his seal of approval.  With then editor of Playboy’s Mexican edition, Miguel Arana and I drive over to García Márquez’s home in the ritzy southern suburb of the city.  I encounter the maid face-to-face.  She is polite, but firm in telling us that she couldn’t indulge to us where we could find the master of the house.  After initial conversation, I tell her that I was going to park myself right outside the house in the fashion of  passive resistance, until she could tell me his whereabouts.  She just couldn’t.  But she promises  to mention to García Márquez of our being camped out at the front gate of his house,  when and if he calls in.  An hour or so later, she hands me a piece of paper.  Written on it is a phone number of Hotel El Quijote in San Luis Potosi, a dusty town in north-central Mexico,  some 225  miles out of Mexico City, reachable only through mostly unpaved country roads.  After all day of calling the hotel and leaving messages that are never answered, I finally hear his voice on the other side of the line. He sounds congenial but tired.  He agrees to meet with me the next afternoon at his hotel in San Luis Potosi.  I leave very early in the morning to make it in time for our rendezvous.

He is not in his room.  Not in the hotel restaurant or the lobby bar either. I patiently pace the hotel property.  I circle the large swimming pool and admire his shiny BMW parked outside his room.  Eventually, I  plunk  myself down in the lobby bar overlooking the entrance to the hotel.  I sit there in excess of four hours, observing every single person entering and leaving the lobby — drowning beer after beer and munching on tortilla chips and salsa.  I don’t even once wonder why we had to go through what I am going through, just so our interview subject  can look at the transcript.  I think to myself  that’s one of the many reasons why Playboy Interview and its format and depth have become ultimate yardstick against which all the journalistic efforts in the question and answer format are measured.

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It is getting to be late.  I am beginning to lose my patience. I am exhausted and have consumed all the beer I could manage that day.  And I am absolutely famished!  I am trying to decide whether I should order something to eat when I suddenly notice short and stocky frame of Garbriel García Márquez entering the lobby.  With him is a young lady I perceive to be in her mid-thirties, who I find out later is Marilise Simons, the Mexican correspondent to The New York Times.  I rush to greet him.  He apologizes for making me wait so long, while Marilise comes to his aid with  “it was all my fault. My car broke down on the way over.” Doesn’t matter. Like an answered prayer, Gabriel García Márquez  is standing in front of me face-to-face.  He asks  me and Marilise to accompany him to his suite.  The front room is littered with the magazines, newspapers and loose manuscript pages piled next to a manual typewriter perched atop a cabinet in vertical position.  He is in San Luis Potosi to help with the screenplay of his book Innocent Erendira and Her Heartless Grandmother, being filmed there with Greek actress Irene Papas in the leading role. And also following him on the location is the French television crew, making a documentary of his life. Now at last he has a moment to pause and catch a breath.

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