I had just arrived in Auroville which is a bizarre little village in Tamil Nadu, India. There is a community there based on the concept of working together to have an idealist society separate from the rest of the busy world. Loosely called the University of Human Unity, the collective was founded by a French woman and draws in people from everywhere.
This wasn’t of a whole lot of interest to me; I was merely passing through. Like many travelers I would imagine. It was all fairly spontaneous and a nice low key spot to check out the beach or rent a motor bike and go for a short ride through the countryside.
I remember when I met Sacco. I’d had a rough past few days earlier having been robbed. I was still adapting to my surrounds. I no longer wanted to stay in the shack that I was renting. I felt somewhat insecure, ashamed and naive that I had been robbed.
This was when the bright and assertive thing I knew as Sacco bounced into my world. She was a strong-willed girl, a year or so older than me when I met her, with big, fascinated eyes and buoyant long brown hair.
I looked up to her, she had a strong personality she never seemed unhinged by her surroundings. Always confident and rational. In comparison, I felt naive and a scared little girl without any sense of myself or the world around me.
I remember lying on the beach with Sacco and the other girl we had become acquainted with. It felt nice to have a little group of us, a rolling party of like minds. After all we had all been travelling on our own, and now we could laugh and tell ridiculous stories or not say anything at all but feel a sense of comfort in new found friends from different corners of the world.
Image credit: siddhartha19
We would wander down to the little coffee shop on the beach, that was kind of like a giant woven gazebo, where some fairly casual staff would cook up banana and Nutella pancakes. We spent a bit of time there singing and playing guitar and she told me about some of the things that she had been doing in India and Sri Lanka.
A few days later, Sacco, the other girl and myself bumped into two American girls heading to Tiruvannamalai, a sacred village with a large and extremely holy mountain nearby, Arunachala. The American girls were going there to listen to some talks by Mooji (a kind of meditation school you might say). The three of us didn’t have any set plans, so we decided to tag along and caught a busy afternoon bus.
Image credit: Peggy Marco
It was nice to be moving again. Sacco told me about her father and that he was a musician. He had made some tracks and we listened to them through headphones on the bus, well as best we could amongst the general bus sounds like people chatting, getting off and on again and the bizarre bus radio hindi pop that was blaring out.
It didn’t really bother us all that much and we became sleepy.
The next morning I woke up in the American girls’ kitchen to the sound of their singing. Their voices perfectly complemented each other and the music was caught up in the warm reverberating walls of the house.
I fell into this musical crowd eventually and stayed in this house. Sacco and the other girl were staying down the road in some accommodation.
We went walking together one morning and Sacco announced that she was on the move. She had so many fantastic plans and so much color and she was ready to see more and find new places. I said goodbye and we promised to stay in touch.
This was the last time I would see her.
Image credit: H-en-M
A few months after I returned home, I heard that Aubrey Sacco had gone missing in Nepal. It was said that she had gone for a hike, but nothing really added up and nobody seems to have found answers in the years that have followed.
I barely knew Sacco, such a brief encounter really, but I knew enough to know “you don’t meet a Sacco everyday and, in fact, you rarely meet someone like that in a lifetime”.
Image credit: Colorado Daily
Aubrey Sacco, a US national from Colorado, has been missing in Nepal for the better part of six years. For more information, please visit aubreysacco.org.
Hiker Alert, a location verification service, aimed at lone trekkers (and all trekkers, really) might be a good idea if you plan on trekking on your journey. It can be used as an app on your smartphone.
You may also be interested in “Finding Aubrey“, an album which features songs written and performed by Aubrey Sacco. It is available on iTunes.
What are your friendly tips? Don’t be shy. Let us know by leaving a comment below.