I am looking at old travel diaries, recapturing mental snapshots of
trips past. Some of those highlights follow:
Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Egypt. Memories include the bright
colors in the paintings on walls inside ancient tombs.
They are better protected now. On my first visit, in 1976, I
could take photos with flash in some tombs; on my third visit, in
1983, I could take no tomb photos.Abdulazizkhan Complex, Bukhara, Uzbekistan. This 15th century
mosque-school is one of many in a city that gave its name to my
best carpet. My visit was so short I recall Bukhara's exotic charms
in a general way; the details are on film.Butrint Archaeological Site, Sarande, Albania. Ruins span the
centuries here, but an odd memory surfaces first: We gathered
laurel (as in wreaths worn by athletes), which I carried to my
kitchen. Laurel and bay leaves are the same.Petra Archaeological Site, Jordan. The astonishing red-hued
Petra, carved out of sandstone cliffs, sits in a desert. But it
rained a bit during my visit, which meant riverbeds that were dry
in the morning were by afternoon carrying lots of rushing
water.Irkoutsk Historic Center, Irkoutsk, Russia. Besides this city's
picturesque 18th century wooden houses, a key memory is the student
who eagerly engaged us in a discussion of American politics -- and
sought to buy jeans.Cusco Historic Center and Machu Picchu, Peru. I loved Cusco's
huge, smooth stones, first finished by the Incas, later used in
I took photos in the open market, but one likely subject was not
agreeable; she threw a carrot. The next day, the sky at Machu
Picchu, high in the Andes, was fittingly misty.
Why recall these journeys? Because all the sites are on the
World Monuments Fund list of 100 most endangered monuments. Indeed,
mishandled tourism is one of the threats.
It is in our interests to save these and other such monuments so
future travelers can collect memories, too.
Growing interest in unusual destinations adds to the urgency --
and it improves the chance of success because more people want
conservation efforts to succeed.
Finally, I find that one of the endangered 100 is a few blocks
from my New York apartment. It is the 19th century Seventh Regiment
Armory. One does not drop in, which is one reason I have not been
It is the setting for special events, and I regularly receive
mailings for Wendy's Antique Show there. I regularly toss the
mailers. Next time, I won't.
Meanwhile, let's send our checks to the World Monuments Fund at
949 Park Ave., New York, 10028.