I’m sad this week.
My friend, Lauren, recently alerted me to the disappearance of Aubrey Sacco who was on a solo trip through South Asia and was last seen part way through the Langtang trek in Nepal. Aubrey went missing sometime around the 3rd week in April. She was to check in with her family on April 29, but never did.
Aubrey seemingly did everything right. Though on her own, she was connected – keeping up a blog as well as posting photos and touching base with her family on a regular basis. Definitely not a wallflower, Aubrey was making friends with the locals and she wasn’t traveling to places necessarily deemed as “dangerous”. Though the U.S. State Department listed Nepal on its travel warning pages back in November, 2009, nothing has been updated about the region since.
A dozen things could have happened to Aubrey including the possibility that she was simply hurt along the way and is recovering in a remote village.
But this news, and the recent arrest of Dutch citizen Joran van der Sloot (the main suspect in the Natalie Holloway killing in Aruba) for the murder of a Peruvian woman, has me really sad and concerned about the safety of women travelers.
Though I’m a huge advocate of solo travel and believe that taking certain precautions can alleviate much of the inherent dangers that come with walking out your front door or hopping on an international flight, the truth is that there’s never a guarantee that your travels are going to be 100% safe.
We obviously don’t have all the details, but Aubrey’s circumstances are particularly haunting to me as she doesn’t appear to have done anything differently than I might have done myself. If I had had the access to the technology available today, no doubt I would have been posting stories and images from my travels through India and Nepal (I, too, trekked Langtang) 20 years ago.
One of my best friends in high school was killed in a freak accident in his early 20’s when he was traveling in England on what was to be his life’s dream trip. While walking on a sidewalk, he was hit by a car whose driver had an epileptic seizure and veered off the road. Shit happens and sometimes the stars line up to hand us a bag of it.
No magic bullets today or tips on how to be safer. Just a simple alert about Aubrey Sacco as every woman traveler should know her story. Her dad is now in Nepal with an organized search party. You can keep up with their progress on the Aubrey Sacco Facebook page. And I’ll be sure to keep you posted when I hear more when details emerge.
Photo Credit: Langtang National Park by TheDreamSky