Hidden Travel Dangers

by Jessica on September 15, 2011


Stinging creatures of nature have a legendary affinity for me.  Oh, I can swap war stories about jellyfish and stonefish and even sea wasps and not meet my match, but I have yet to meet anyone who can come close to the story of The Tree.  After a pleasant tour of the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Island, we returned to our hotel to discover that I had a not so pleasant, slightly bubbly looking rash on my leg underneath my pants.  So foreign and frightening was this rash that I swallowed my pride and showed it to the hotel owner.  She only gave it a cursory glance, and knowingly asked if I had been sitting under any trees during our exploration.  It was clear that I had violated some unspoken island tree rule and the nasty rash was badge of dishonor.  The hotel owner offered me only two more words of warning: Manchineel Tree.

The manchineel tree is located along the shoreline of many Caribbean Islands with a lovely yellow fruit and welcoming shady branches.  Do not be fooled!  Every part of this tree is poisonous.  Contact with the sap can cause temporary blindness and eating the fruit is fatal.  Native peoples even used the sap to poison the tips of their arrows.  So, caustic is the sap of this tree that even if a rain drips from the tree and onto your clothing you will experience a reaction.  Kinda makes you think differently about a picnic at the beach.


walkingontravels September 15, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Man, you and my friend Sarah need to get together and swap war stories. She wrote an article called Masochistic Traveler back in grad school. No matter what horror occurred to her, she just got back on the horse and went on another trip. Glad to see you are doing the same. 

Barbara September 16, 2011 at 3:20 am

Wow, I would be terrified of this tree!!  Who knew plantlife could be so dangerous!

Tracy September 16, 2011 at 7:30 am

I think you win! I've been bitten and stungy by bizarre, benign things when no one else has, not to mention that whole sore jaw for a year after eating a baguette … but a tree with caustic sap beats any of my stories. Ouch

Preparing for Takeoff September 16, 2011 at 8:07 am

Yikes! Thank goodness the kids didn't get exposed to it! What was the treatment for your rash and how long did it take to go away?

Jessica September 16, 2011 at 2:41 pm

We treated it with burn cream, as it was very much like a third degree burn and it lasted about a week. Yuck!

Lisa September 16, 2011 at 10:38 am

That sounds like something that would happen to us – we count any trip that doesn't involve a visit to the doctor as a resounding success! 

Sonja September 16, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Good gosh, I hope every single one of these monsters has a big sign on it!

Working Mommy September 18, 2011 at 12:02 am

um…yikes!!! i think i will stay away from the area all together!

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