isn't necessarily about events and dates. It's about the people who made those things happen. People who mostly aren't with us any
longer. Or are they?
writing this it's a few days before Dia de Los Muertos...the Day of the
Dead. A big celebration here in
Mexico. Not in the morbid sense,
but rather a time to remember and celebrate the lives of loved ones who have
gone before us. It's getting more commercialized,
but for the most part, it's version of Halloween.
So, let me
tell you a story of historical building. In fact, it's the very building where my wife and I run our Tailhunter
Restaurant & Bar on the La Paz waterfront.
refurbished an old three-story building next to the beach. It's over 100 years
years, we have found that it has been a home many times, an offices, a museum,
a warehouse, restaurants; and an apartment to name a few. There's a dark interior stairwell that
goes from the 1st floor offices to the restaurant kitchen on the 2nd floor.
Covered in old ceramic tiles and graced with a metal rail that has seen too
many coats of paint, it allows
staff to move between the floors without having to walk through the actual
restaurant and bar.
Jill and I
were working at our desks one afternoon.
Jill saw or
sensed the lady in black first.
you see that?" she said a bit startled? "Who was that lady that just went up the stairway? That
wasn't one of the staff."
honey? I didn't see anyone, I replied. I had been looking at my computer
was a lady in black that just went by our office door."
She went on
to say that youngish woman dressed in black, wearing a big ruffled dress like
you would see on an old Mexican hacienda just walked by the office door and up
We both got
up and looked out the door up the dark stairwell to the kitchen. Nothing. I shrugged.
insisted. "She made no
sound! It was like a whisp."
upstairs and no one in the busy kitchen just above us had seen anyone come up
through the stairwell.
Jill and I
just looked at each other. Hmmmm...another shrug between us.
next 3 years, the "lady in black" has walked up the stairs several
times According to Jill, she's not
scary. In fact, Jill says she
seems to be lost or like a mom looking for someone or something. I saw her once and agree.
We kept it
between us until one day we happened to mention it to several of our staff
members who were talking about noises they sometimes hear in the old
building. All eyes went wide.
seen her too! But no one had said anything. "You've seen her too?"
always in a full hacienda black dress. Imagine Zorro's wife. There is never a
sound. She is never scary, but
seems anxious or looking for something.
she was usually seen near our interior stairway, she was also seen near our
restrooms and on the terrace briefly looking out towards the bay. Looking for
came from our landlord only recently. He had heard a story about a wealthy
woman who had lost one of the
children to illness and the child had died in the nursery...on the 2nd floor at
the spot where our restrooms were now located!
staff has reported that after we're closed at night during clean-up, they sometimes hear children laughing
in that area or a woman crying! Toilet paper is sometimes strewn about and raised toilet seats will
sometimes fall back down loudly...all at the same time! Water in the sinks sometimes turns on
and off by itself.
of our lady in black?
years ago at the restaurant, I met another woman who said that she had lived in
the building back in the 40's. She
said her father had been the director of customs for the City of La Paz and
described wonderful childhood in the house when the highway in front had been
packed dirt and burro-drawn carts still shared the "road" with the
few cars in town.
mentioned how easy it was to walk out
front and dig all the clams she wanted and how commercial fishermen
would sell fish right on that same beach including tuna and dorado they had
caught literally yards in front of our restaurant that had once been her home.
A bygone time!
accompanied her as she asked to look around. She said our offices had been her parents' bedroom and told
stories about how our downstairs cantina and store had been the living room and
garage. She said she had great
memories of living there.
she said the 2nd and 3rd floor had been patios and more bedrooms and how she
and her sisters would play overlooking the ocean.
entered the kitchen, she looked quietly around.
was my grandfather's bedroom," she said. "He was a wonderful playful good man to be
passed away in this room." Pause.
"Do you ever notice anything
strange around your bar?' She said with a raised eyebrow and smile.
I raised an
eyebrow of my own. Little prickly
hairs perked up on my arms.
do you ask?" I replied with a
always says he wanted a bar and if he had one, he would LIVE there," she
Well, as a
matter of fact, I told her, things move around in the kitchen from one day to
the next. Glasses move. Sugar seems to find new places to
hide. Packets of spices move from
one side of the room to another with no explanation. Bottles of tequila will be found taken out...even after they have been put away for the
abuelo (grandfather)!" she seemed to say happily. "He loved playing pranks and he
loved tequila!" I think you
have my grandfather's ghost enjoying your bar!
I think we do! As I found out
later from staff members, sometimes they also hear old rancho music and what
sounds like someone in scuffed shoes dancing!
"grandfather ghost?" Maybe. I hope he's enjoying
himself. I like to think
he's keeping an eye on us.
I'm not sure what to think of our lady in black! Maybe the two know each other. Maybe
they dance when the band plays!
they are indeed spirits from the past, they don't seem to bother us. "Haunted" doesn't mean
scary. I think we're kind of
blessed to have a bit of "living history" still with us.
fascinated by history is to know about real flesh-and-blood ordinary folks like
you and me who were just going about their daily lives and have passed on
before us. Like our resident ghosts!
I will also. Mavbe my own spirit
will be found laughing at the bar or cutting fish in our fish room! If I have to wander for a bit of
eternity, it might as well be in a
place of laughter and camaraderie. What better place than a bar!
I hope I am
having a good time with my wife as
our place has been a good space for friends, family, fishermen to meet and
enjoy each other! Maybe they will
tell stories about me the funny-looking short guy and the laughing redhead who
once owned the place. Our daily
life today will be someone else's "history story" of tomorrow.
Cheers to life...and the afterlife!