South of Soledad’s desolate, sandy like land, lay the Salinas River twinkling blue diamonds. It ran alongside the rocky Gabilan Mountains, which are sidelined with fresh, green trees. On the bank under the trees the leaves lie deep and so crisp that when it seldom rains it makes a great skittering. According to my Mercury thermometer temperatures exceeded 26 Celsius. It is never easy to find your own way around; the person who is lost has a serious problem. It is a stranger who gets lost; it is a stranger who is looking for someone. Seldom does he find anyone.
Therefore it is always a good idea to have someone accompany you. This is how I felt, one fine day when the sun was high in the sky whilst the eagles were swooping low over the land. However, I was fortunate to find a man dressed in the common, denim trousers and in a denim coat with brass buttons. He wore a black, shapeless hat. His countenance dark, with restless eyes and sharp, strong hands, slender arms and a thin bony nose. I approached him nonchalantly and as he turned I realise from the look on his face he was not a man to be approached.
So I decided to follow him. He passed the sand plains and eventually arrived at a ranch. I purposely loitered outside for a few minutes so as not to arouse suspicion. When I first entered they mistook me for a ranch hand, but I quickly dismissed that suggestion and asked them of the whereabouts of the nearest motel. My question was drowned out by the bellowing of ‘Nigger, get out of here’. This came as a shock because the black man didn’t reply with any hostility he just nodded.
It was then that I realised the people here must be of the utmost hostile nature. I repeated my question and belatedly got an answer from a tall, dark man, who directed me in his deep voice towards a motel, which he claims was two kilometres away. Yet again, I started my journey. The reception I received from the ranch workers led me to believe them to be rude, and hostile. Any attempt to converse with them was futile. Consequently. I journeyed the two miles and arrived at a funny looking motel were I seemed to be the only visitor.
Every day I journeyed the two miles to the Gabilan Mountains. You may be mystified as to why, but it was because the outstanding beauty never ceased to amaze me. It was on one of these days that I met a man in this town who wasn’t as hostile as the other inhabitants of Soledad. I recognised him immediately to be the tall, dark man who directed me to the motel. We started to converse with one another, and became acquaintances. He was named Slim. Hence we met every day for the rest of my stay.
One interesting fact of the history of Soledad I acquired from him was the seemingly ‘fairytale’ of a couple of men. One of who was unnaturally big. It was this man who broke a woman’s neck. The man was shot and the other imprisoned. This seemed to be their most prominent claim to fame. The first six days passed as slow as a tortoise, however the next seven flew past thanks to Slim. On the last day I said my goodbyes to Slim and then to the Golden, Gabilan Mountains. With that I left behind the 180 hostile inhabitants of Soledad, and journeyed on.