Friday, March 28, 2014

What's in a name?

Some say Ajo, Arizona, got its name from the Spanish word for garlic. Others say the garlic thing is only coincidental and that the name actually comes from an Indian word, one that probably means “get off our land, white devils.” It’s just as likely the name is the result of someone sneezing after being asked the name of the place.

However it got its name, Ajo exists in the middle of nowhere because of a copper mine. Whatever part copper still plays in the economy, the remaining percentage seems to be the sales of auto insurance to tourists headed to Puerto Peñasco, Mexico (which tourism developers have badly anglicized as Rocky Point).

Just a few of the dozens of insurance vendors

Meanwhile, ten miles south of Ajo is the village of Why. The story goes that the place was originally referred to as “the Y” since it was at the Y-shaped junction of highways 85 and 86. “If you’re going to Puerto Peñasco, bear right at the Y.” But postal regulations said town names needed at least three letters. So Y became Why. I’m surprised no one has established a neighboring village named Because.

I used to wonder, too, until I became one myself

But why, you ask, was I in Why to begin with? Because it's on the way to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (where one doesn't need special insurance or copper).

An arch with a Mini Me arch

Even though it's spring, there aren't many blossoms due to a severe lack of rain over the winter. Maybe next year.

1 comment:

  1. Railroads spell Y as wye; that would get you three letters but not be nearly as much fun of a name to play with. I always thought the neighboring town should be named Why Not but Because is a more often used answer.