Living Above “The Shop”

My apartment is just behind the red banner.

As an avid reader, movie buff and writer, I’ve always loved the idea of unique living situations. When we lived in San Fernando Valley – California- I would always point to bungalows, often incredibly tiny and part of a former motel complex, and announce to my incredulous husband, “I want to live there someday.” He’d just chuckle and shake his head.

my bedroom
Not exactly a Murphy bed!

One other recurring attraction was to apartments above businesses, regularly represented in the old black and white movies I watched every day after school. The “shop” below was frequently a jazz bar or a Chinese restaurant and equipped with a bathtub under the kitchen table, fold-down ironing board and sometimes a Murphy bed hidden behind the front room wall.

I now live above the shop, a café specializing in cake and coffees, not quite as glamourous as a jazz club, but don’t worry – I still get lots of music. Manzanillo, Mexico, is not a busy place, but I manage to live right on the busiest – actually the MAIN – street of this berg of about 160,000 people.

The Good Friday party getting started behind my place.

Although there is a large Canadian presence from November through March, there are very few foreigners in town at the present, but the party scene Thursday through Sunday nights is still very strong. And I managed to situate myself half a block from the party beach. In short, my nights are noisy. But they are also full of “joie de vivre.” There’s loud music, raucous laughter, sporadic shouts at passing friends and all of it accompanied by the sound of crashing waves. I have come to love it all.

One of the cool little nooks in Costenos.

During the open hours of the café downstairs, Costenos, I am treated to more the subdued laughter of business meetings and friends coming together for a few minutes. I also watch the tending of the gardens from above on my balcony.

My favorite people-watching perch.

Daytime also affords me the opportunity to watch people, sometimes from my street-side balcony or occasionally I perch on at a table out front for the best view. I have always loved people-watching and find so many characters I spot end up in a story or novel.

During my last taxi ride, the driver told me that there are about 900 taxis in Manzanillo. I immediately felt that must be an exaggeration, yet in my approximately 40 taxi rides I’ve only had the same taxista once. They all seem to know where Costenos in Las Brisas is. Do I live in a famous place? Is this the 21 Club of Manzanillo? Unknown. I’ll have to suss that out during my next stay.

So, now I’ve had another unique living experience, and have come to consider this my home away from home. I plan on living above the shop for six months every year, spending a month or two at home and exploring the world again for about four months out of every year. Where to next? Who knows. I go where the wind (or plane fares) blow me.

Can’t forget my backyard!


Author: Kathy Lynn Hall

I've embarked on the lifestyle of vagabond as a solitary woman and I'm excited about sharing my experiences with you.

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