An Unexpected Encounter in Auressio

What makes traveling interesting? It is the unexpected!

I’m in Locarno and decide to take a bus to Loco, just because I like the name!  The Line 324 bus climbs up steadily, taking the steep curves with ease and reaches Loco in 32 minutes. I spend a pleasant hour walking around admiring the interesting stone houses and the great views of the valley. There is a small museum about grain milling, but I don’t go in.

loco-houses
Ready to head back, I check Google Maps for the next bus – it’s an hour’s wait! Instead of sitting around, I decide to walk down to Auressio, about 2 kms away. I am the only person walking on the road!

35 minutes later I arrive at Auressio and since I’m here, decide to explore it. The village is built vertically and there are houses at many levels with many steps to climb. After a couple of levels, I have had enough. Returning to base, I stop at the information center to have an ice cream. And that is where I meet Mareile!

Mareile manages the Onersone tourist information center and has been living in Auressio for the last 10 years. She is of Scandinavian descent from North Germany.  Her husband is a driver for tourist buses. She tells me that I am the first person from India to visit her village! But, Mariele herself is no stranger to India; she actually visited my country a few years ago. How amazing is that!!!
Her husband went to India on a project and Mareile joined him later. They saw a bit of India, traveling from Delhi to Simla and Manali on a motorbike. It was quite an adventure, she says with a big smile.

info-center
She tells me a little bit about her village – that it has a population of about 60 people, most of them  work in Locarno, a few have their own business of quarrying granite stone and making jewelry, while some others mine stone quarries to make roofs; that the town council is planning to create a nature park in the region to ensure jobs so that people don’t move away; that they have two homes for the aged; and that it’s a hard life as there are so many steps to climb up and down every day.

I thank Mariele for giving me a glimpse into her life. She asks me to sign the visitor’s book and I write a message in Hindi and then bid goodbye as I have a bus to catch.

On the way back I think about the choices I made that led me to meet the only person in a village 6500 km from home who has visited India! It was a serendipitous event. And now I have a wonderful memory of my visit to Loco/Auressio.

If you are ever in Auressio, be sure to visit the information center and read my message!

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