By Denise Ortuno Neil
In celebration of the Halloween season, I recently put a call out to the local community to send me their ghostly tales that they have experienced here in the Coachella Valley. So to help inspire you to send me your stories, I will share one of mine.
There is no doubt that the desert landscape is blanketed with glorious beauty, but it also possesses a depth of alluring mystery as well. Honestly, with the amount of history that has taken place here, and the millions of people who have traversed through it of the years, the possibility of there being indelible footprints left behind is certain.
The energy that survives from the past may take different forms, from the deafening silence heard when hiking on the many enigmatic trails, to entering an obviously spirit burdened historic building, or even witnessing a paranormal vision itself. The latter is what I experienced years ago on a golf course in Indian Wells...that's right, I saw dead people. Well, one dead persons ghostly presence at least.
It was years ago in my youth, when there wasn't as much nightlife here in the desert as there is today, and having a good time took a little creativity. In the coolness of the evening one winter, my roommate and I left our meager dwelling in Palm Desert and drove to a lush, green carpeted golf course in Indian Wells, adjacent to the Indian Wells Hotel and behind what is now the Miramonte, formerly Erawan Gardens (Erawan Gardens opened in 1963 and and stood tall in in all of its Oriental style glory for 34 years, until being sold in 1996).
We were actually sitting at one of the golf courses that had been used as the home of the original Bob Hope Classic Golf Tournaments. So there we were, all bundled up in our desert winter wear ( a thin sweater and jeans) staring up at the black velvet and rhinestone sky. We quietly slink-ed over to a sitting wall next to someones house, because the wetness from the grass had seeped through our jeans, making for a slightly swishy, uncomfortable feeling.
We cracked open a couple of beers to enhance our evening and let the surroundings guide our conversation. It must have been the enjoyment of our banter, or the beer that gave my next reflexes such a natural and loose response. A polite soft spoken woman approached me on my left and asked " Do you know what time it is?", and without hesitation I responded, "It's 2:30 in the morning". She thanked me, and then in what seemed to be a slow motion instance, flashed by us in a white blur and vaporized into the wall.
We snapped our heads towards each-other and gaped in amazement at what we had just seen. Then, without saying a word, we gathered our belongings with lightening speed, and threw ourselves into the car as if we were fleeing an alien attack. The ride home was in silence...as we both tried in earnest to mold our minds around what had just happened.
We could tell by the direction that she came from that she materialized from the Erawan Gardens, that was closed and fenced off at the time. But who was she? Why did she want to know what time it was? Did she die before she could make her appointment? Maybe she died after partying at the Erawan Gardens and missed a late night rendezvous with her lover? There were no distinct answers to our questions, the only thing we knew for sure was that we were now believers in the afterlife.
The desert can be gloriously unpredictable and holds a multitude of secrets. So if you find yourself taking a late night stroll on one of the many golf courses in the Coachella Valley, don't be surprised if you encounter some unexpected company..and just remember to wear a watch.