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Little things are the most important ones

A story told by Gunnar Mortelmans Ghent

Gunnar Mortelmans (31) has been a KrisKras travel guide since 2013. He travelled with groups to the Ligurian coast, to the Provence in France and along the Italian Riviera.

Some years ago, someone asked me 'what’s the secret of a good travel guide?'.  For us - tour operator KrisKras – this has been a challenging question for years now. We have made more than hunderds of  lists, each naming the talents, competences and skills a travel guide should have. But my answer was shorter. Let’s take Sweden for example: a challenging trip during which participants spend a lot of time in a car together, where they camp in the wild and cook their own food …
 

Who would I send to this magnificent country as a travel guide for KrisKras? If I could choose between two people: one with a lot of travelling experience in the country, let’s say someone who can even speak Swedish; and an other person with excellent people skills. Then I choose the second one!

He was the travel guide of our trip to the Provence. Gunnar. He was looking forward to this expedition. Travelling is in his blood, and this journey seemed like a piece of cake. The group travellers were less experienced and so it turned out to be a challenge after all. A varied group of people, the group feeling not quite there,… All in all, a job easier said than done. Gunnar fought lingering tensions with his ever-positive attitude. He was the perfect leader and taught his fellow travellers the tricks of the camping trade.

A varied group of people, the group feeling not quite there... Gunnar Mortelmans

Every evening, they pitched their tents until they were true tent-pitching experts. One night they camped on a nice spot nearby a lake. Gunnar, swinging in the trees like a monkey,  made a wonderful, cozy sitting area around the camp fire with nothing but two poles, a tarpaulin and some rope. Every evening they would gather around the selfmade fire to chat, cook, enjoy the outdoors and to play a game of cards.

That evening they played a special dice game. On every side of the dice was a picture, to be used for inspiration to tell a story. Like had happened on other occasions during this trip, Gunnar felt immediately that storytelling wasn’t easy for ‘his’ group. So he took the lead. While the crickets sang their songs, Gunnar took his listeners to a magical place full of aliens and absurd events.  When some nearby campers complained about the noise, the group muffled their laughter, but it remained intense.

Storytelling wasn't easy for the group Gunnar Mortelmans

Even though everyone could now easily set up their own tents, that night they slept under the stars. Sleeping under a seemingly endless sky brought them even closer together.  The night swimming that ensued was cause for a feeling of togetherness that would last the entire trip.
The group called Gunnar ‘The Swiss guy’. A nickname he’s proud of and that feels like a gift he earned for being neutral, appreciative and optimistic throughout the trip. He could see, almost tangibly, how this group of individuals transformed into a tight-knit group of friends.

Or how simetimes, the small things are the greatest. Nele Decoodt

So would I send Gunnar on the trip to Sweden I mentioned at the start of my story? What do you think?

Authored by Nele Decoodt Ghent