Part 8: Ajo, Shingles Recovery, and Final Thoughts

In case you were wondering, by the time we reached Ajo, my shingles were well on the road to recovery. Sitting at the airport now, I still can feel remnants of my shingles, but I have officially finished all of my anti-viral and biotic medications and am feeling a lot better. Thank God for recovery and thank God for Western medicine! As for a shingles recurrence (which I am deeply terrified of), the internet says I’m in the clear for the next 3 years at least while the virus gets out of my system. Hopefully I’ll never have to go through the Hell of Shingles again.

Now, sweet Ajo. I know we had briefly talked about Ajo before heading out to AZ, but I wasn’t really sure at all what to think pre-visiting the old mining town. Honestly, though, I was enchanted by its charm and resilience. I think it’s so beautiful that the town is attempting to revitalize through art and artists — I’ve read about city revitalization through art in places like Philly, but I’ve never seen a project like Ajo in action. I love that little town. In fact, I could see myself there some time down the line staying there as a resident artist… There truly was something so charming and inspiring about the place. Also, I could live off of the sweet potato quesadillas and prickly pear lemonade at the farmers market kitchen.

I’m currently sitting at the airport thinking over the trip, this year, the class, and everything in between. It is a strange feeling to be at the end of a chapter I, at a time, desperately wanted to be over (not the class, but this academic year). I am only a week out, and then I hit freedom (finally) again. That is a good feeling. But it is strange, too.

I remember this time four years ago at the same place in my high school experience — my junior year served as my first introduction into the idea of freedom and love, music and love, love, love love. Freedom and love. I was so excited at the prospect of college and freedom, and it’s hard to believe this period is nearly coming to a close again. When the week ends, I’ll have finished my third year at Washington and Lee, and I’ll be on the countdown to my last days here. That’s a really strange feeling. But it does feel appropriate to have finished up this year in the desert — the biome which I have always felt most free within and connected to. In reference to myself this time four years ago, I aspired to be a desert woman, and I still aspire the same. It feels also appropriate to have ended the trip in Ajo — an artist’s haven — and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument — where I could yell OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWW at the top of my lungs and have it echo back to me three more times before the canyons went silent again. I love the desert. And I am glad to have seen a taste of the traditional way of life here. All I’ll say in closing after this long ramble is — as always, the desire to learn and connect more has arisen once again, and I am both grateful for all that has happened before and everything that is to come in time.

3 Replies to “Part 8: Ajo, Shingles Recovery, and Final Thoughts”

  1. As a resident artist, what would you be doing in Ajo? Music, painting, writing? I think that Ajo has a lot of positive energy in it. However, I could not live there because it is really small and there is not a whole lot to do. While I like natural beauty, I also highly value big beautiful concrete jungles, such as New York City. What would be your ideal place to live?

    1. I’m not sure what I’d be doing in Ajo, but I hope to go there with a travelling Art and Thrifted Goods van that also functions as a potentially self- sustaining garden and my home. I don’t know what I’ll be feeling in 50 years, so I can’t say just one ideal place to live. Ideally, I would live just about anywhere for a little while.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. As for me, I would love to spend some more time in Ajo. Such a beautiful place and filled with such great spirit and friendly people. Literally everyone I met there took the time to speak to me on a human to human level – including the guy that patched our van tire, which is amzing when you consider that he didn’t speak English and my Spanish is pretty bad.

    I’ll dream for a second and answer Jacob’s reply. What would I do there? I don’t know, but there’s no shortage of things to be done.
    Yes, its true, that, Ajo doesn’t have the wealth of services that New York has, but I have to disagree that this means there is not “not much to do”. In fact, it is the opposite. In a town like Ajo, it is up to the residents – the artists, the entrpreneurs, the native residents and the newcomers – to re-imagine the town and build a new community there. That generates a pretty long to-do list!

    I think to all the people I met there – Aaron, Lorraine, Nina, Sterling, Stuart and Emily, Eric from the Agave Grill, Mara from the cafe, the girl at the coffee shop, the woman who showed us around the Curley School, the mechanic, and the check-out lady I met at the IGA whose two children were waiting with her for their bus ride to school. They all struck me as people living a very full life – many no doubt struggling to make a decent salary, but not without a sense of purpose and community.

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