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Just got back from St.John on Friday with a tale to tell.
We stayed at the far east end of St.John in a place called Raj Mahal. It was a nice place and no one around with a great view.
The wife and I and my uncle and his wife. To get this story started by the house there is a goat trail which goes down the hill which is a little steep and over grown. There is a salt pond then a strip of woods then the ocean. If you google it with maps you will see were I am talking about. It was Thursday afternoon and we wanted to get one more time in the ocean. My uncle is from the Teton mountains in Wyoming and is pretty rugged person. Now I told him to beware of the plants on land and don't touch anything around the reefs. OK the warning was placed. Now we go and hit the reefs and he goes exploring in the wooded area and around the salt pond. We get out of the water after about 2 hours and he is in the shade by the cliff downing water that we brought. His mouth was on fire and it was worst then any pepper in the world. He seen these fruit hanging from a tree and decided to pick one. Smaller then a plum he took a bite, it was really sweet and taste, but he spits it out. He takes another bite and same thing really sweet, but thinks about it and spit it out. Right about then his mouth turns on fire. Of course I called him an idiot and we went up the trail. He tried milk rum beer,water more beer, more milk but it wasn't putting it out. After 3 hours we went out to eat and it went away. We got up Friday and packed and he had a burn/ rash on his arm about 8" by 3". Sap from the tree must have touch his arm. We got back to Minnesota Friday night. I woke up and looked on the Internet to see what it was, the Manchineel Tree one of the most deadest trees. The fruit is called the Death Apple.
The trees are few and far between in the Carribean and parts of Florida. He called up St. Thomas Hospital and told them the tale.
Their responce was " You ain't dead yet?" "Well that's a good sign".
He got lucky and just needed a shot for the rash and some ointment.
Still had a good time.
Yikes! I'm sorry to hear about your uncle's experience. The majority of manchineel trees have painted trunks to warn people. If your uncle found an unmarked tree, perhaps you can let the villa owners know; they might want to paint the trunk, to prevent future renters from having the same miserable experiencing.
You also have to be careful if standing underneath a manchineel when it's raining as the rain passing through the tree can contain the sap which although not deadly can cause a skin reaction in sensitive people. I can't believe he ate the fruit of something he didn't know - but glad he got over it! Got a chuckle over the Adam and Eve analogy!
wow, he narrowly escaped a worse fate by spitting out the fruit. lucky, lucky, lucky man.
i did the reef bay trail some time ago with friends, and i tried not to touch anything as instructed, but apparently i brushed against something because by the time i got to the bottom of the hill, my left wrist was swollen. it did not hurt, but the skin was puffy and my wrist was all stiff. the other wrist was perfectly normal. it did not hurt or anything, just uncomfortable.
i got into the water, which apparently washed off whatever was there, and by the next day it was normal again. i have no idea what i touched. nature is a pip.
best to you,
"do the best that you can in the place where you are, and be kind."
--- scott nearing