Four old men—John, Gino, Larry, and Frank—have been warehoused at "the Manor," a long-eroded home for the forgotten. The men take turns telling stories, stalling death as they relive pivotal parts of their pasts. Outside, the cliff crumbles and a lighthouse slips toward the sea.
John, in particular, enthralls the others with his tale of Tampico, Mexico, where he met an Indian woman named Chepa who owned a house at the edge of a mountain wilderness. She was his first love—and his first lesson in the dangers of foreign intrigue. But his is not the only memory haunted by mysteries born in Mexico. Sick of waiting for death, stirred by the shifting ground beneath their feet, the Manor's residents finally resolve to quit that place and head out for Tampico.
With inexorable pull, and exquisite scenes that could only come from Toby Olson, Tampico celebrates a sublime band of calaveras, "those skeleton messengers of mortality," who seek self-discovery even as their lives are ending.