But I will forgive them their nasty petty-powered bureaucracy, because say what you will about the Mexican bureaucracy, and them being universally defined as los hombres de mañana  and the  people difficult to do business with.  But when it comes to their hospitality, warmth and the most humane welcoming attitude of mi casa es su casa, they are the tops.  Especially when it comes to the matters of the heart, they melt like marshmallow on a twig over camp fire.

After my assignment ended in Munich, I returned to the States and at the time was living in  Santa Barbara, California.  When Playboy called me back, it was first to work for them as a freelancer, which would still allow me to continue living in Santa Barbara and travel to Mexico City as needed. Perhaps once or twice a month.  Hop, skip and jump from the little shed of the SB  airport.  But I knew that before booking my flight, I had to first take a trip to Los Angeles and visit the Mexican Consulate and acquire a visa.  Actually it was fun driving south on the most picturesque highway 101 and spending a pleasant day there,  accompanied by my French Canadian friend Claude and her Swedish boyfriend, Gunnar.  We checked in with the Mexican consulate in Los Angeles promptly as it opened. Put in my application through,  paid the fee of 200 Mexican pesos (about US$ 9.-)  and ventured out to stroll the neighborhood of Olvera Street and the plaza. Had late breakfast and later an authentic Mexican lunch that went beyond tacos and enchiladas and flautas. Picked up the visa and drove back  with the Pacific roaring on our left and the San Ynez Mountain Range on our right.

What was supposed to be just a short introductory trip, ended up being a stay that stretched to three full weeks. Wasn’t too hard to take,  basking in the lap of luxury at Camino Real, which was to become my home away from home and because of its bright yellow façade with the magenta trimming,  came to be known among my Mexican associates as tu casa amarilla.

There was enough work to keep me occupied. And our partners Ricardo Ampudia and  Carlos Civita took care of me through the days with sumptuous meals. Lunches that started at two in the afternoon and lasted until six. Back to office for two to three hours, and then it would be dinner time around ten. During those three weeks I was introduced to some of Mexico City’s most alluring places. Playing tourist over the weekends, I had absolutely fallen in love with the smells and the sounds of Mexico City.  Must have been the pollution, the waves of black  heads bopping, the noise and the perpetual chaos on the streets that reminded me of home, filling me with the nostalgia of the similar landscape of the street life of Bombay.

Unlike my residence permit problems in Germany when Playboy had shipped me off to Munich, this time around  they were aware of the fact that for me to take frequent trips to Mexico, I would require a long-term multiple entry visa.  So in-between  my first trip in January 1977 and the second in February, they had gone ahead and hired a young attorney in Mexico City to immediately start the visa proceedings.  Attorney or not, these things take time. In Los Angeles, they had completely ignored my request for the multiple entry visa. This meant, I would need one for every trip I took to south of the border.

My first stay lasted from January 11 through January 30th. I was required to be back in Mexico in about ten days.  A week later, Playboy asked me to first come to the head offices in Chicago. From there I would continue on to Mexico City. I needed to get another visa.

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