Kangaroo Island (KI) is beautiful with wildlife galore. It feels like staying in a wildlife preserve because much of it is a wildlife preserve. The island has a fertile farming industry and so eating locally grown or caught food is part of any visit. It has all that island living has to offer–both the positive and the negative (more on that later).
The best way to explore the KI is on a tour. We chose a full day “Island Life Tour” from Exceptional Kangaroo Island (EKI) based on a recommendation from a couple we met while in New Zealand. We saw all sorts of real wildlife: rare black cockatoos, kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, endangered Australian Sea Lions and Australian wedge-tailed eagles. Our tour include tea under amazing eucalyptus trees (with koalas hanging out overhead), a bbq lunch in the bush. EKI promises small tours and our had only one other couple with us.
That night, to celebrate our anniversary, we had dinner at the Stranraer Homestead, a lovely high-end B & B serving gourmet meals made from local produce and seafood. The owners graciously drove us home afterwards, so we could drink wine during our meal and avoid dealing with the unpaved roads and wildlife hurling themselves at our (uninsured) rental car. It was the end of what should have been a perfect day.
But not all island living is idyllic. Sometime island living can also mean provincial thinking and small-minded prejudice. We were exposed to this aspect of the island via our tour guide. For most of the day he was funny, informative, educational and all around entertaining.
I have been on walking tours all over the world and most are pretty good, but this one was excellent and the reason was our tour guide’s stories. You can teach a tour guide facts and figures, but to make a place come alive, you need a storyteller. And that is what we had in this guy: his stories about the locals made the tour lively and interesting. So it was all the more disappointing to be exposed to a part of island living that we could have done without.
At the end of the day, our tour guide decided to share Australian expressions as he was driving us back. When he asked if anyone was Jewish, we said yes; He then said that he better not share the next expression, leaving us to wonder what he had been about to say.
Context: This was two days after the start of Passover, right before Easter, just after the terrible shooting at a Jewish Community Center in Kansas City. David thinks I am being dramatic when I connect these anti-Semitic remarks to the murder of three people but it starts with comments that are disparaging, off-putting, cruel.
Frankly we were in shock at the time and did not say anything. But after a few days of thinking about this incident I wrote to the owners of EKI. They apologized, said all the right things and supposedly we will be receiving an apology from the tour guide, but the fact is that it marred our time on Kangaroo Island celebrating our anniversary.
This was not the first time I have experienced anti-Semitism. But is has been a long while. The last time was about 10 years ago when we were living in St. Louis. A mothers of our daughter’s friend purposely didn’t invite us to join a group of the other mothers and daughters going to the Nutcracker Ballet, because we are Jewish. Again, subtle but cruel.
Have you ever been the target of hate speech or prejudice? What did you do?
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