Travel is a mirror.
In my early 20’s, before I had ever left my country (USA), I watched a French movie called “Le Salaire de la Peur” in New York City. I liked the movie, with its Hitchcock-like suspense turns and stark black and white imagery but I was confounded by the tragic ending where Yves Montand, after successfully completing his mission, accidentally drives off the cliff and the credits roll. “What’s wrong with the French…why so pessimistic?” I asked myself.
(Fast forward through 3 years of backpacking through 40 countries and understanding more about the world and how it views my country)
I watched the movie again in my early thirties and enjoyed it just as much as the first time, but this time the ending didn’t seem out of place. I understood better that I was a product of my country’s culture (and Hollywood “happy endings”) as well as its fortunate geography and short history.
Sometimes you need a mirror to see yourself.
This article was originally written for Denise Pulls, Lonely Planet featured blogger, who has a running feature for travelers and bloggers at Travel With Denden called "Why We Travel."