When we travel, we figure out where the tourist towns are and then we head the other way. Today’s trip was to Ajo, Arizona, a very small town 43 miles north of the Mexican border and on the edge of Organ Pipe National Monument.
Arizona 85 is the road to Ajo. Towns that have a single road going to them are always worth visiting.
Ajo was once a very busy mining town; on the outskirts of town you can peer over the edge of a mammoth hole in the ground. There is a sign that says “Beware of Snakes” so the looks at the mine are fleeting. Still, that the town was once very prosperous and then fell on hard times is clear. The wooden basketball backboards were left in place as a reminder.
So Ajo has reinvented itself as an historical place and it is, but in a casual, unkempt way which makes the history real and not polished. Not much has been curated here and there are no finely worded signs.
There are several gleaming white churches. Stopped in front of this one, I watched a black man walk in the front door. I wondered about him, black men being uncommon in this part of the world. He opened the door with such authority, I wondered if he might be the priest. The door nearly shut before I got this shot.
We stopped at Marcella’s to eat. As we sat down, an old woman with very bowed legs walked by wearing blue jeans and black high heels. She waved goodbye to her friends, got in her car and drove away.
Two Sheriff’s deputies sat at the next table. I mistook them for Border Patrol and for a small second wanted to engage them in a discussion about the construction of the infamous wall. What did they think of it, I wanted to know, but thought it was unwise to ask. As it turned out they were more concerned about arresting drunk drivers. They were both wearing bulletproof vests in this tiny town and I wondered what was so dangerous.
On the way out of town, we stopped the car to take this picture of a beautiful sky over a beautiful street. I love America, I thought, and all of its perfect and different places.
The sun was setting by then.
And we were lucky enough to see it from the side of the road on AZ 85.