going to a hospital in remote island

You’ll Never Believe Why I’m In A Remote Island Hospital

I sailed across the Pacific Ocean unscathed for 24 days, but let me wander into the jungle for one day on a remote island and I land myself in the hospital.  You’ll never believe what did it.

First, a little backstory.

I was raised by my grandmother in a tiny farming town in West Texas.  Hart, Texas to be exact.  It was population 1,121 when I graduated High School, probably less now.

When I close my eyes and think of home, I can smell the air outside scented with manure from the feedlot.  I can see my grandmother sitting at her sewing table in the kitchen. The cigarette smoke burns my eyes and the aroma of burnt coffee and bacon grease has me jonesing for pancakes.

It’s a world of its own forever engraved in my memory.  It’s where I once swam in irrigation ditches like they were free public swimming pools, drove the lawnmower to the post office and worked in the cotton fields every summer.  I even drove a tractor and helped fuel crop dusting airplanes.  I’d love to show you a picture, but we didn’t have cell phones or internet at home, much less Facebook or Instagram.

So, what does all this have to do with going to a hospital on a remote island?  Well, hold on…I’m getting there.

I was a small-town farm kid. Adults were busy working so we ran free, got dirty, got hurt and got sick.  It was normal.

Me, well, I got sick a lot.  Chronic sinusitis, rashes and a full range of seasonal colds were my norm.  We were working class with no health insurance and our town didn’t have a doctor or a hospital (and you better be half dead before claiming to need a doctor).  But, we did have a school nurse. She would give me a splint, some cream, a pill or whatever she had and off I would go.

All that just to tell you: I don’t panic about every little rash, bump, bruise or cut.  With that in mind, join us in Nuku Hiva, Marquesas.  We visit the island doctor, discover my new kryptonite and get a solid dose of island vibes.

We just don’t do these islands justice and I don’t know if anyone could.  Life is simple, and people are happy.  Animals and kids alike roam about and play in the dirt.  They don’t think twice about approaching strangers, because they know we’re tourists.  They move to a slow and steady drum beat, they’re kind and most of all, they are hospitable.

little Marquesan boy and girl playing in dirt

I’m continuously surprised by how often I hear, “I am sorry, my English is not very good”.  They apologize for not speaking my language, and they are sincere about it!  They truly wish they could better accommodate me, the foreigner.

But, it’s somewhat a two-way street.  As travelers, we try to remember that we are guests and respect is earned, not given.  First thing we learn before visiting any new country is how to say these few greetings: Hello (Bonjor), Please (S’il vous plait), Thank You (Merci), Goodbye (Au revoir) and I don’t speak French, do you speak English (Je ne parle pas Français, parlez vous anglais).  It never ceases to amaze me how much respect can be earned with a smile and these phrases.

Thank you Grandmother (RIP), for teaching me to be polite.

Itchy Taro

Taro has irritating, needle-like crystals that can be dissolved by cooking (don’t eat or handle raw taro root or leaves).

Fun fact, I have known for many years I’m allergic to taro root (the food).  After eating some taro baked into a dish at a restaurant eons ago, I broke out in hives.  I’ve known since to avoid eating it…now, I know to avoid the leaves too.

But, you don’t have to be allergic to get the itch.  If you handle or brush up against taro and find yourself an itchy mess, here is what the farmers have to say.  Give yourself a salt scrub.  A solution of cold water and salt (baking soda helps too).  Follow with anti-itch cream.

Taro is Bad, Mango is Worse

In hindsight I think my bigger problem was all the fresh mango’s.  Green mango’s (not yet ripe) were all over the markets, in the streets, on our hikes…I was stock piling them up like the zombie apocalypse was coming.  Why?  We’ve never seen or had access to so many wild mangoes before.  Plus, they had a week or two before fully ripening.  Which is perfect for heading out to sea and sailing the even more remote atolls of the Tuamotus!

So what’s the problem?  Mango’s and poison ivy are from the same family.  The bark, sap and green skins of mangoes contain a poison called urushiol, just like the poison ivy plant.  Who knew?!?  Not me!  Gah, go figure.  Another couple of items to add to my “Beautiful But Deadly” list.

I can eat the fruit but have to leave the peeling and handling to Jason.  Unless I want to take another trip to the island doc.

remote island hospital

You Can Take The Girl Out Of The Country, But You Can’t Take The Country Out Of The Girl.

My big island hospital takeaway: Stay away from the taro plant when hiking around the Marquesas islands. If you see a wild mango calling your name make sure you wear gloves and put the mango in a bag you can trash immediately when you get home.  Of course you should still venture off into the forests and jungles, that’s what adventure is all about.  Albeit, perhaps with a long sleeve shirt, close toed shoes and pants if you are as allergic as I am.  If all else fails the hospital visit isn’t too expensive or painful… Que Será, Será.

In nature, I revert to my inner child. I throw caution to the wind and wander about like I’m invincible.  I just can’t help myself.


Nikki’s Pink Swiss Army – 

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Sharing our lives and what we learn along the way is possible because of viewers like you. Thank You!

Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (75)

  • Sajitha Perera

    Wow these islands have the same fruits and vegetables as my home country Sri Lanka. It’s just as if a part of it broke off. The fruit you are actually guava. The plant that gave you the rash had large yams that can be boiled and eaten. Very tasty.

  • OppugnAll

    Ah. So we finally see the flaws of Nikki allergies.. Lol. While you guys seem like such a great match. Jason definitely is operating out of his weight class as he mentions every time a boat project requires him to strip down to trunks that we viewers would rather see Nikki.

    I really do miss the addition of Kate, I tried to see what she is up to after leaving and little info besides now selling her boat. Wish she could have made the trip with you as think another seasoned sailor would have kept everyone more restful and in higher spirits. I have been binging your entire sailing videos started less than a week ago. So loving the content!

  • Dede Runnels

    So glad you are on the mend! I have followed you guys for YEARS and never knew you were from Hart! We’ve just moved from Plainview into our fifth wheel and will hit the road as full-timers in 26 weeks! My husband is the Dean of Fine Arts at WBU, and I work at the hospital…we are retiring from West Texas and going to hit the road for ADVENTURE! Cannot tell you how many times we have watched your videos in preparation to be on the road!!! Our favorite video is of you guys headed to the Keys in your RV…when you showed the RV parks available down there and stopped at the stone crab shop!! Love you guys!!! Hope you are feeling better!!!
    Dede and Marti

  • Rev. Dr. James Dean McNamara

    Familiar with Hart TX… used to live in Plainview and served as a hospice chaplain. Saw patients west to Olton, Earth, Muleshoe and Farwell, NW to Hart, Dimmitt, and Hereford, N to Kress and Tulia, NE to Quitaque (Kitty-Quay), Turkey and Childress, and E to Floydada and over to Paducah and beyond.

    When I saw that you were from Hart, it brought back some great memories.

    Now, we live in central FL and pastor a church in Kissimmee.

    Just found your blog and website… going back to the beginning with the RV travels, and just made it to the boat.

    God bless you in your travels.

    “Pastor Dean”
    (Rev. Dr. J. Dean McNamara)

  • Michael

    Thanks for the taste of real island life. I would love to walk around there.

    By the way, is there such a thing as health insurance for a sailing trip? Which emergency med kit did you get?

    • Mike

      Ya that’s a great question.

  • Sheila recker

    So far in the last 7 years I’ve got
    Sea lice itch
    Chigger bites
    Mosquito bites
    Other assorted bites
    The other day I squeezed what looked like larva out of my husbands back ( bot fly)
    His foot looked suspicious too
    Carry Benadryl and bet I ate get an epic pen
    Enjoy your hard work and episode

  • Anita

    No Nikki No! I’m horribly allergic to anything in the poison oak, ivy family and contacted it right before a trip to Europe a few years ago before cell phones. The French thought it was mosquito bites so told me to go and get “Apisail” at the pharmacie. I went through a tube a day. I was covered with blisters head to toe when I got back to the states 3 weeks later. Was never so happy to get to a dermatologist in my life.

    Now I always travel with a prescription cream (Clobestol) that knocks it out in a day. That itch drove me insane!! I compensated for it with many bottles of wine.

    Blessings to you and Jason and wishing you itch free journeys in your future.

  • tom Mcdonald

    If you plan to travel this seafaring style this medical emergency will not be the last time. Over the past 40 years I spent about 4 months each year traveling, half on business and half for pleasure. Both my wife and I have consulted medical help often; over the years about 40 times. The last time we were in Hive Oa, my wife went to the dr. and the pharmacy; she had the same issue as Nikki along with bites by the NoNos. I have been to Swiss drs about six times and my wife three, and in Japan, four me and two for her; once i even had a crown re-cemented. I have had food poisoning at least six times; once in Peru the dr advised me to return home immediately. The medical cost you incurred will be similar no matter where you are, except the for the US. But the quality of care will almost the same as the US. Do you have Medical evacuation insurance; if not consider it. The one we have will evacuate us to our home town (Ft. Worth) if our dr says it is important. Do you have your immunization records uptodate on the International form? Do yo have a written medical history for each of you that you can give to a local physician? Do you carry a polypharmacy with so that you can medicate yourself when you are in the hinterlands? Of course under the advice of your own Texas dr. Have you had any EMT training and if not consider at least a basic course. We have visited almost all of the island groups in the Pacific from Japan and Hawaii south to NZ and Easter Island. Good luck to you. You are in for a grand adventure. We just return from a rest in Cozumel and our next trip is to see the Condors in the Purevian Andes.

  • Carol McCarty

    Oh my gosh! I thought I was the only one who had a mango/poison ivy allergy (I know I’m not—just never heard of it & many I talk to are surprised). I spent 5 years in Hawaii and adore mango. Unfortunately the feeling is not reciprocated. I can’t eat it period!! After enjoying the fruit a few times I started breaking out in a rash on my face. At work one day I overheard someone say the two were related. What a bummer! When medical personnel review my allergies I usually get “really?” like I’m a little nutty. I explain they are related and to avoid mangoes if they react to poison ivy. Even the wonderful Mango flavoring Starbucks had a few years ago is a no-no. Helpful tip? Keep liquid Benedryl on hand, generic is fine. I have a list of allergies a mile long. Good luck! Love your videos. Sincerely, CLM

  • Marc Montero

    Now I’m itching.

      • Susan Santoro

        Nikki… love your videos!!!
        Where are those multicolored sunglasses from!??? Love them! You always look great!!!

  • Michael Beal

    Yep, I’m the offical mango peeler in our house. Diana, my wife, gets little hives on her hands and lips if she touches mango. OK to eat them but can’t touch the skin. Hope by now you are feeling better and on to your next destination. Thanks for sharing your adventure.


  • Tanya Moroney (Leibel)

    Hi from your small town community. I enjoy following you. Your adventures are great!!! Keep living the traveling and adventurous lifestyle and of course thanks for sharing.

  • Paul Atkin

    Hi Nikki, I loved this comment of yours
    “Life is simple, and people are happy. Animals and kids alike roam about and play in the dirt. They don’t think twice about approaching strangers, because they know we’re tourists. They move to a slow and steady drum beat, they’re kind and most of all, they are hospitable.”
    In the past I traveled to southern India and felt very much the same. Many people lived very simply, but their quality of life was far higher than many people in the cities of developed countries.
    Hope you got over your allergy.

  • Steven Nichols

    For people like us prednisone is a wonder drug. A 10 day course of it take care of my horrible allergic reaction to all urushoil plants.

    I knew that would be the solution

    Feel better

    • Robert William Jensen

      Prednisone is indeed a wonder drug, but everyone must use it VERY cautiously. For the past 15 years I’ve been on and off antibiotics and prednisone for chronic sinus infections, now lower respiratory infections have been added to the list. At first the prednisone was great, almost a magic pill that along with the antibiotics made me feel healthier than I had in over a decade but that hasn’t lasted. As of last year, 2020, I avoid taking prednisone as the withdrawal symptoms are worse than the original problem. I feel like cr*p and have bad aches and pains that last for days afterwards, even if I taper off, even if I only take it for less than 6 days, even if I take it for a day or two, even if I take lower dosages.

      Nikki Wynn, have you tried nasal irrigation for your sinus problems? It’s gross starting out but everyone I know who has stuck with it for more than a couple of weeks saw improvement and felt better. I could smell food again! I wasn’t coughing or hacking up gunk, or most embarrassing coughing and having a glob of mucus land on someone. Because of your allergies I don’t know if this second piece of advice will be of help but you can buy papaya enzyme tablets that help your sinuses, and they taste like sour candy. The third piece of advice is to have a hat drink, tea, coffee or whatever, but drink is immediately upon waking up. Some folks keep a thermos next to their bed for convenience.

      The important thing with nasal irrigation is to use either distilled water or water that’s been well boiled to kill any tiny critters that might be swimming around in it, bacteria, viruses, brain eating amoebas, etc. There are kits you can buy from Neilmed. Costco, drug stores carry them in various sizes. They include premade packets you just add the clean water to. There’s also a squeeze bottle to use as an applicator. DON’T use if your sinuses are all blocked up, or squeeze the very lightly and cautiously and listen to what your body says.

      If you’re sensitive to pollen then keep windows closed at night. Pollen levels usually peak around 6am so pick a time well after that to go outside or open windows.

      • Robert William Jensen

        To be more clear on the water used for nasal irrigation, use warm water below 106*F, even that might be too hot for some people so test the temp like you would a baby bottle, sprinkle some on your wrist.

  • Carolyn Wilkins

    Nikki, I get a rash from poison ivy that looks like what is on your arm, The best thing to dry it up and take the itch away is Zinc Oxide. Desitin diaper rash medicine has a bigger percentage of Zinc Oxide then the tubes of Zinc Oxide I have looked at.. You wouldn’t have to take the steroids. I have no idea how you would get Desitin there, but it would be a great addition to your medicine chest when you can buy it.

    • Laura

      Wow this is good to know! I used Desitin once in the remote Bahamas out islands when I had an awful unidentified rash (likely sea lice in hindsight) and just grabbed Desitin because I found it in the cupboard and it was a blessing. I will def carry it from now on!

  • Alan Solomon

    Thanks for the video. Nothing but smiles all video long.

    I am not technical in some areas. I think I hit the subscribe button a long time ago but, I am not sure.

    Safe and happy travels,

  • Akiko

    Sorry to hear about your hives. Growing up in Hawaii, I was taught not to handle the taro leaves or the taro due to getting an allergic reaction like hives. I think it’s similar to collard greens. I never had any problems climbing up a mango tree when I was younger and handling green mangoes. We used to eat sliced green mangoes with a soy sauce mixture or in Hawaii we call it shoyu mango, you can Google the recipe it if you want to try it. Oh and in Hawaii, guava jelly is extremely popular, so if you have guavas try to make it! Also popular in Hawaii is guava juice and a guava chiffon cakes.

  • Paula Burr

    I got a rash from mango sap. I was picking them from a tree and holding them in my arm up against my bare stomach. Came away with a rash of perfect little circles where the stem base touched my skin. Doctor said it’s related to poison oak. Btw, in case you don’t know, coral can give you a nasty rash too if you get scratched by it. I’ve never had more rashes than I did the year we lived in HI! Thanks for your posts and videos – you really do a great job!

  • Vladimir

    Hi, Nikki! Good story. Hope you are better now. Your trip is full of practical stories. Thank you, your husband and cats.

    Vladimir from St.Petersburg,
    but not from Florida…
    All the best for you from Russia !!!

  • Dan summers SV Endless Summer

    You can add cashews to that list also. Wife and I were in BVI and handled cashew fruit. (Yes the nut before extraction and roasting) Both broke out like poison ivy all over body. Thought it was from horses we rode that Might have been rolling in the ivy. Did not find out until a few years later it was the raw cashew fruit to blame.

  • trikepilot

    Hart, Texas. I grew up in Plainview. Unlike you and Jason, I have not travelled far from there. I live vicariously through your videos. The wife and I just bought a diesel pusher this year. We will NOT be buying a boat. Keep the adventures coming.

  • Jim McKeith

    Sorry, you had an allergic reaction. I have been following for a long time (RV and sail) and enjoy your videos. I am an ER doctor in California and Texas, your shower was a great idea but you may have quit too soon. If you take a very hot shower, all of your mast cells will degranulate (releasing histamine). You will get extremely itchy (the burning you described) initially but then will be itch free until your cells make new histamine. Couple that with some Benadryl and you will be able to sleep for about 6 hours. Pepcid and Benadryl treat different aspects of the histamine reaction so both have a part in treatment. The only recommendation I would make is skipping the oral steroids at night as it will make it tough to sleep. Hope you are feeling better. Of course, this doesn’t constitute medical advice because, in addition to being more expensive, our system is very risk conscious.

  • Randy

    Nikki, do you carry an epi-pen in case of a severe allergic reaction to something? It’s really an essential part of a first aid kit if you have severe allergies.

  • Bob

    Nikki, we hope your itch has gone away by the you see this post. God bless the country girl.
    We are sure Jason will take very good care of you, thank goodness he does not have this same reaction to the plants. All The Best and Safe Sailing
    Bob & Elise Firth

  • Paul & Diane

    Love watching your videos and reading about your adventures. We especially relate to Nuku Hiva, where we spent a day exploring when our cruise ship anchored. Yes, the people are delightful, even if some overdo the tattooing. You have chosen a beautiful island to base yourselves for 6 months and sit out cyclone season.

  • Ron

    I am always impressed by the quality of your videos. I was impressed that when Jason was on his own he setup the camera to look like someone was holding it. I had to back up and watch it again, as I realized that no one was with him.

  • Andy S

    Second the tecnu. Stuff is fabulous. We’ve even had it help several days after exposure to the oil.
    Benedryl, 7 day tapered steroid dose pack and maybe an epi pen should be added to your boat supplies. Safe travels…

  • Beth

    Nikki, please be careful with all fruits that come from a rubber plant base. Such as mangos, kiwi, pineapple, etc. they all have the same protein as latex and you mat be developing an allergy to latex. It can become deadly. If your lips or even your ears tingle or itch during or after eating or handling fruit like that you are developing the latex allergy. The more the exposure, the worse it can get. Bananas, chestnuts, tomatoes, are also in the same latex protein base also. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are also symptoms of an allergic reaction. Please be sure to have liquid Benadryl or the generic equivalents with you. (Liquid is better as it is easier to get down if your throat, lips or tongue are starting to swell.😬) each exposure can get worse or just hit you like a ton of bricks.

  • Dana Lee Gibson

    I feel your pain Nikki! I am very allergic to poison ivy. When I moved to Florida (from the Boston area) I discovered (the hard way) that the Brazilian Pepper trees down here are also part if the poison ivy family. And I too had to learn how to eat a fruit I love that apparently wants to kill me.
    We were just in Tulia TX, not far from Hart, a few weeks ago. Your description of your home town brought back fond memories. We drove our converted school bus from SW Florida to the Grand Canyon. A trip inspired by your adventures. You’ve come a long way from west Texas, you should be proud. Be safe.

  • Jayme costa

    Halo guys
    The red fruit the name is goiaba here in Brazil has a lot normally in nort east
    Is very good to make juice and candy’s
    Nice video I hope all is ok with Nikki

  • John Dumas

    I love your spirit and sense of adventure. It’s one of the reasons that I look forward to your You Tube posting every week. This leads me to a concern which I have wondered about in the past: What if something more serious happened to either you or Jason? Do you have a basic medical kit on board and have you studied any first aid in preparation for your adventures?

  • Bruce McCaskey

    I think Jason needs his own pocket knife. Nothing massive, but something with a decent sized locking folding blade and not too thick so it’s unintrusive in the pocket. I’m pretty sure it ought to be part of the world sailor’s casual everyday uniform.

  • Terry Apple

    I did not know about the taro problem. I have known about the mango since at least 1960 on the Navy base in Cuba. We were warned that our children could be sensitive to handling the mango and the bush… Maybe not just children … 😉 Still love the mango.

  • Roger B

    Thanks for the education on Mango and Taro. I think I’ll stay away from those edibles. Gosh, they are beautiful islands. I hope you were able to have a quick recovery from the rash.

  • Richard Savage

    How do you provision for the next passage there?

  • Janelle

    Bruise the inter webs for info about Pepcid AC helping with allergic reactions. Being you have a LOT of allergies, it might be a good thing to add to your medicine cabinet! As always, love the videos. Love the life. Will continue feeling a bit riot from time to time!

  • Kevin K

    I was totally freaked out about Nikki walking on that wall next to the ditch with all the green around it.

  • Judy Kinder

    I know this is not relative to your current travels but I noticed from your RV blogs that you traveled with a cat! We are planning a 4-5 month trip in our 29ft motorhome & my hubby is reluctant to take the cat! Can you offer any tips that will be helpful?

    • Curious Minion

      There’s a whole blog post on it: If you use the search function (at the bottom of each blog page) and search for cats, ideas are also mentioned in a few other videos too.

    • Linda Jorgenson

      They travel both in an RV and on their sail boat wonderfully with 2 cats.

  • Lisa Cantrell

    So glad things were not as bad as they could have been. For perspective, my son had an allergic reaction to a bee sting last year. While he was seen immediately in the ER when I took him up, the visit, during which he was seen by a nurse who hung IV Benadryl and a physician’s assistant, who spent 10 minutes to verify the fact that he had had an allergic reaction, cost over $4,000! It was $1,300 alone just for the “doctor”
    However, your video brought back so many of my own childhood memories on St Croix. Do you know how good soursop is for many things? It’s one of my favorite flavors for sorbet. (As a vegan I do not eat ice cream but it’s also delicious as an ice cream.) The scene of the kids sliding down the slope brought back such good memories of us doing it in the rain. Pieces of formica, by the way, are also really good and make you go really really fast!
    Keep it up with these wonderful videos. I get so sick that I can’t even imagine spending more than a few minutes on a boat, and I am so jealous that you get to live on one. It’s wonderful vicariously doing so!

  • Jan

    Oh, so sorry. I am sometimes “attacked” by plants and understand that darn itch and irritation all too well. Hopefully it was short lived.
    Thanks for sharing your life – I’ve followed you for nearly 10 years and enjoyed everything!

  • Debbie

    You might want to keep on hand a bottle of Tecnu poison ivy scrub.

  • Lynda

    Thank you for introducing us to such a beautiful island! Loved the interaction with the children, the hospital visit (hope you’re better by now, Nikki!), and kudos for trying the new foods!

  • Paul Smith

    Happy Holidays – WYNNS
    My wife and I spent about 6 hours with you yesterday; Your Key West visit got us hooked.
    So a very rainy day in Pennsylvania; and inside Christmas decorating allowed us to be introduced to your amazing journey.
    Take care Wynns – and Thank you!
    Paul and Colette Smith
    Wyomissing, PA

  • Warren

    Well that’s a weird one . So glad you got it looked at before taking of the even more remote island!
    I don’t like mango but the green skins are not what we see in the usa!
    Thanks for sharing , enjoy Warren

  • Joe Mazzone

    Your an incredible young lady Niki❤️
    Someday, an incredible young mother🌹
    For now, I’m sure your an incredible wife and inspiration to thousands🍺

  • Laurence Phillips

    I really like this, the occasional video that’s less of an adventure agenda with panned highlights. Rather more of a day as it goes, close in, feels like you’re right there, walking along to do one thing but taking it all in too.

      • Cheryl

        Off subject, but google would not tell me….My hubby & I love watching your videos & I just have to know where you got your gorgeous multi colored sunglasses & what brand they are….

  • john d

    sorry you got a rash and glad you are ok. love that you are a country girl
    still true to her roots. look forward to your videos and pics of the kitties.

  • Sandy

    I think this is my favorite video so far. It feels like an authentic island day and shows the beauty of the island and the people. Your happy attitude and your embracing of whatever comes your way is the most inspiring thing! I’m sure you are spot-free by now- happy travels!

  • Maggie

    LOVE your outlook!! I wish I had been YOU!! 🙂 (I’m old now too late for me..but I’ll live thru you 😉 Thank You!! Maggie

  • Jim Guld

    Hey, kids! Great story. We had a big mango tree in our backyard in the old Stick and Bricks. Chris had the same issue. Loves mango and can’t touch the skin without dire consequences.

    We love your videos. Hugs!
    Geeks On Tour


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