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

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 –


🎶AWESOME tunes for vids: Artists Used In This Video: Giants and Pilgrims


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