It’s story time folks! This story is 100 percent true and describes how I was almost kidnapped in Salinas, California.
After I got home from my 30-day train trip in May, I had some Amtrak credits leftover. Knowing I would be on the west coast this September, I decided to use the credit on a trip down the California coastline. I rode on the Coast Starlight, Amtrak’s most popular route infamous for its views along the beach.
Starting in San Jose, my second stop was Salinas. Since I was heading to an adults-only summer camp just outside of Los Angeles, my pup Chelsea was stuck at home with her favorite babysitter, so I was on my own. Here’s what happened:
If you’ve never been to Salinas, you aren’t missing out. Aside from the vintage shops on Main Street, I found the city to be pretty boring overall. Most of the area was made up of auto body shops and busy highways lined with the makeshift tents of the city’s homeless population. I stayed in Salinas for two nights as it was the closest Amtrak stop to Carmel by the Sea, which I really wanted to check out. If you’ve never been, it’s an old dog-friendly Spanish beach town with shops and bars.
As I walked to the train station to catch a bus to Carmel, I was overwhelmed by the honking and hollering from cars along the highway. Sexual harassment is hardly something new to me, but it was certainly more than I would have liked. Keep in mind that it was roughly 11 AM on a weekday. Broad daylight.
The streets were deserted aside from those who were living on them, but that didn’t bother me. It was a 10-minute walk. I figured it would be over in no time.
A few minutes into my walk, a man in his early twenties slowed down next to me on the highway. I couldn’t hear what he was saying, but it seemed like he was trying to hit on me. It wasn’t the first man to slow down, and I ignored him as I did with the others.
He was driving a bright orange sports car, so I could recognize it easily. I quickly noticed that the was parked at each side street I crossed. The guy was slowly driving the back roads following me as I walked. He even had the balls to honk his horn and shout at me, trying to get me near his car.
Prior to my noticing the orange car on the backstreets, I crossed in front of an older maroon car pulling out of a parking lot. The man driving was probably in his forties and heavy set. He drove past me the first time I saw him but must have turned around because he passed me again a few minutes later. This man was trying to talk to me also, similarly to the guy in the orange car.
At this point, I started getting nervous and texted my sisters a description of the two men and their cars. You can tell that I was keeping my eyes on my surroundings and not my phone because my texts don’t completely make sense.
The texts stop because my sister called me. As I picked up the phone, the guy in the orange car pulled onto the sidewalk in front of me, gesturing for me to come closer to his car. Not five seconds later, the guy in the maroon car pulled right behind him.
I kept my back against a fence and started yelling at them to leave me alone. The guy in the maroon car started to get out, and I told them I was on the phone with the police. The two quickly pulled away after that, and I didn’t see them again. I crossed the highway and kept my sister on the phone until I reached the train station. And that’s how I was almost kidnapped in Salinas.
I’ve only told the story of how I was almost kidnapped in Salinas to a few people, but they all had the same follow up questions. Here they are:
The first question I usually get after telling this story is about what I was wearing. Of course, it asked with the added side note that what I wore doesn’t matter. Unfortunately, in my case, it did. I had walked the same route the day before wearing pants and a tank top without this kind of attention. On this particular day, I was wearing a romper over my bathing suit, and the reactions I got were very different. It shouldn’t matter what I was wearing, but it did. It’s not right, but it’s what happened.
It was a gorgeous day outside, and as I said, it was a ten-minute walk. When I’m traveling, I like to explore, and I find that it’s best to do this on foot. It’s not unusual for me to walk an average of eight miles a day when I’m in a new city.
No. I didn’t want to stick around and wait for the cops to show up, giving these guys a second chance to grab me. It also took a few days for the shock to wear off and for me to realize just how dangerous the situation could have been.
I’m not sure, but it would be quite a coincidence if they both happened to be following me and pulled over at the same time. I don’t know what their intentions were, but I know they weren’t good.
Ultimately, I made it to Carmel by the Sea but not without going over and over in my head how I could have avoided nearly being kidnapped in Salinas. Here’s what I came up with:
Have you ever dealt with something like this? How did you handle the situation? Leave a note in the comments section!
I’m Rose! Get lost with me as I travel the world with my spoiled dog Chelsea in hopes of accidentally uncovering a few hidden gems along the way. Far from being considered a planner, it’s not uncommon that we stumble upon both the best and the worst of what this world has to offer.
From advice on how to make traveling with a dog easier to the inside scoop on what it’s really like to travel alone as a woman, this travel blog is far from ordinary. Follow us as we explore the smallest corners of the globe, meeting new people and hopefully not getting murdered along the way.