It’s a sweltering summer day in beautiful Costa Del Sol, a
charming Spanish beach town. My friend and I are taking a break from our
tourist-oriented schedule and decide to take a more improvised approach today.
The local vendors and restaurants we visit are a reminder
that some of the best attractions aren’t to be found in a tourist handbook. One
shop is piled high with original paintings, depicting local landscapes in lighthearted
water-color. Another sells hand-made pottery, fresh off the wheel.
After some pizza topped with local seafood, caught less than
a mile away, we continue our exploration until we come across an open shop
titled simply, “Fish Foot Bath.”
Intrigued by this awkward combination of words alone, we
decide to check it out.
The shop consists of a single room. At the end of the store
is a checkout counter. Ordinary enough. But to our right, the wall is lined
with raised chairs, cushioned and wrapped in leather for optimal comfort. At
the foot of each chair is a square tank of water, filled with silver fish the
size of tic-tacs.
It’s explained to us that customers pay to sit with their
feet submerged in these tanks, as the fish nibble away at any dead skin. We’re
assured that it’s a painless process, so we figure ‘why not?’
The instant my feet enter the water I’m swarmed by the
miniscule school of fish. The intensity of the foreign sensation is enough for
me to pull my legs out of the tank. My friend calms me down until I gain my
bearings and once again dunk my feet back in.
The sensation is almost unbearable, and it takes all the
strength of my being not to…laugh.
I’m dumbfounded with how much this tickles. Each microscopic
fish mouth affixed on my feet and ankles, squirming gleefully. Never has
anything tickled this much. For the first five minutes I laugh uncontrollably.
I acclimate to the feeling of this pseudo-pedicure and
become relaxed. One of the employees offers us refreshments. I order a cold,
refreshing cola. Laughter bubbles up once more as I realize the wonderful
absurdity of my situation.
At the end of the allotted time, we pull our feet from the
tanks, eager to see what they feel like. I glide my hand across the bottom of
my foot in awe. It probably hasn’t been this smooth since the day I was born.