The most powerful way to know yourself better

I’ve always been curious about the world and its many diverse cultures and places. The unknown has always fascinated me. I remember when my mother gave me “Robinson Crusoe” to read, I was perhaps 14 years old, and as paradoxical as it may sound, this book opened my heart and my mind to the beauty of strangeness. The seeds for exploration and discovery were planted in my heart. So after getting my Law diploma, in December 2008, I was ready to explore the world and off to South Africa I went. Here I will tell you why I recommend you to know yourself better through traveling.


There I worked for different NGOs, met inspiring people and it was in that wonderful country, in the amazing Cape Town, where I woke up to this hidden passion of mine: photography. I no longer wanted to be a lawyer; I wanted to see the world, to photograph its many different faces. And I was already sure by then that photography was a more powerful and effective tool in the process of raising awareness about the (equal, peaceful and sustainable) society we must all build together.

More than just allowing me to see beautiful places, my time in South Africa offered me innumerous opportunities to discover, and reinvent, myself.

Because if we travel with an open heart and an open mind, we learn, we teach, we share, we change, we grow…by discovering others (place, cultures, stories), we also discover ourselves. Although I do have some values that are permanently engraved on my soul and on the way I see life, such as gratitude, compassion, curiosity and respect, my perspectives are constantly changing as a result of my experiences in different social-cultural contexts.

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man”, Heraclitus has beautifully summed up.

And that’s the most amazing thing about travelling: the chance to see the other side, the new, the unknown, and to grow as a person through this process of discovery. We hit the road hoping to discover the world, but we actually discover much more about ourselves…and then we can change, and by broadening our perceptions, we can change the world… So after two years in South Africa, I went back to Brazil, and a few months later, I had the chance to do a masters in “Human Ecology and Contemporary Social Issues”, in Lisbon, Portugal. I am glad I didn’t let this opportunity go, as it solidified my holistic understanding of the intrinsic relations between culture, nature and society, and I am not afraid to say that my human experience – and my photography – highly benefit from this wider understanding of our current issues. We are all interconnected, and we cannot understand the whole (system of life) if we only study its parts, individually.


Back to Brazil again, once finishing my masters, I wanted to combine my passions for photography and for social-environmental topics, so I started collaborating with Greenpeace Brazil in Belo Horizonte, MG, and I also had a few different jobs (in a Law firm, as a waiter in a cafe, selling clothes in a shopping center, teaching English…) before I finally got the chance to take my photography to a professional level. After a year photographing for a photography agency, it was time to discover Asia, a kaleidoscope of colors, cultures and sceneries that have always captivated my imagination. So here I am, currently living and working as a freelance photographer in Phnom Penh, Cambodia (the place I’ve been calling home for almost two years now), feeling grateful and fortunate for being able to explore first hand this side of the world; not anymore only through the pages of books and The National Geographic magazine. And thanks to Worldpackers, I’ve just got back from a place with a fairytale -like landscape, and ancient culture and traditions: Yangshuo, China.


Because traveling is more about the people you meet along the way, and the beauty of strangeness lies on its power to open paths of understanding.

I had three unforgettable weeks there, and more than just seeing, photographing and filming beautiful places, I made great friends and, again, I was challenged to question and challenge my understanding of people, of cultural practices, of life in general. Because traveling is more about the people you meet along the way, and the beauty of strangeness lies on its power to open paths of understanding, (self) discovery, compassion, fraternity and togetherness.


Traveling with an open spirit also teach, and constantly remind us, that less is indeed better, so we start caring less about brands and material stuff, and more about seemingly “little, simple” things. Moments and experiences become more valuable than material possessions; being becomes more important than having or buying. And we all have the capacity to go out there and explore; all we need is the true desire and willingness to make it happen. It won’t be always easy – and it actually wouldn’t be so rewarding if it was -, but it’s possible. “To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life”, The Secret life of Walter MittyLife is either an exciting adventure, or it’s nothing at all.

SO TRAVEL WORLDPACKER, and give yourself the chance to experiment the beauty of diversity (places, people, cultures, stories etc.), and to grow, and reinvent yourself, during your wanderings… As Jack Kerouac said: “There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars”. Safe travels!

Hope to meet you anywhere in this beautiful world,

from the Worldpacker Bernardo Salce

2 Responses

  1. Fez

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. Always great to be able to relate to other people’s travelling experiences – engaging pictures!

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