The '09 Sala El Mariachi's are being closed out right now. They can be had for just over a grand in S size. This would be my only MTB. ~$1,000 was my budget. I figure this was a better bike than whatever FS I could get at this price. Plus, I have always preferred steel.
So, only 1x9 and no suspension a worthy investment for somebody who has been MTB riding for only a couple of months? I prefer cross country, but in SoCal do have to do some climbing.