I traveled south through the Sonoran desert with my camera following the old route to Tucson along the Mexican border. The sight of a large adobe plaza and church in a nearly abandoned town stopped me.

I heard of this place before, a place called Ajo. Some say the Spanish named it. Others the Tohono O’odam people who prized the red pigment (O’cho) found here they used for paint. It wasn’t the pigment though that fueled the once boom here, it was copper. Veins ran deep, before the desert took them away.

In the plaza, a small group of men sat at a table, sharing coffee, chat and the morning news. I leaned against my car, thinking I should approach. They maybe knew the legends of ghosts in the abandoned mines, the secret aquifer water holes that allowed the Indians to live here. The source of the desert North wind which blew so hard. The people left in this small away town, quieted by time.

I turned to look at my car, there were still many desert miles to travel. Each one later telling me I should have stayed….