When Matt first told me about his goal to see all 900... well it must have been 920-and-some at that time, I didn't know him well. He was very cute and I couldn't get enough but I also wasn't too sure what World Heritage Sites even were. I'm not saying I thought it was silly. I thought it was incredibly romantic. I saw images of jet-setting and beautiful hotels- Oh, the joys of loving a man who loved to travel....
As we grew closer and Matt spoke more and more about UNESCO and about traveling us traveling together I started to pay more attention. Matthew wasn't interested in the typical type of jet-setting lifestyle I had considered. He liked to get in there and really live within a place as much as he could while he was there. Quite honestly, at first, I was appalled. Then, I guess, I've come around.
For me it was a sort of why not venture. Why not go and see all the places in the world that we could? Why not see what makes these sights so special? Why not do it together?
Now, having been to a few sights (only 8 to Matt's 200+ I'm afraid) I'm starting to understand more and more why Matt found them to be so important. Some of them don't really seem to be that important or grand at first glance; it's simply a garden or a nice house. In the end, however, they become much more to us. It took me a few trips to really realize it and it seems funny to me now that I described Stonehenge as being like Disney World. It's a surreal experience to see it and perhaps that's why I felt that way. I still do a little.
That fact of the matter is, these places are there and protected because they make us who we are. Or, at least, they are the last that remains of the people that made us who we are. How much did we take from those that built Stonehenge that we don't even know about? Where would the world be today if Winston Churchill hadn't come into the world as he did at Blenheim Palace?
I know that the point of this blog is to document our story - and perhaps provide some inspiration and helpful advice on travel but it's also, out of necessity, about World Heritage. And, for me - for us, that's one of the most important things right now.
While I'm sitting here typing this World Heritage Sites in Syria, Mali, and 28 other countries are in danger of being wiped completely off the map. A small symptom of much bigger problems I know; it's seemingly inconsequential. But I think of it this way - if we could learn our heritage, remember our history and remember that we all come from the same people, perhaps it might help. While they may not be and can not be the highest priority of the moment, I encourage everyone to learn more about any of the World Heritage Site whether they're in danger or not. These are the places we come from, and there must be something in that.
Here are some links for more information on UNESCO's campaigns to protect World Heritage Sites in Mali and Syria:
"Heritage Passports" In Mali
An Appeal for Aleppo (Syria)