How to be Fish Bait

Fish Spa
Home of a fish spa in Rhythmno, Crete

I am in Crete where life appears more laid back than my home country of Canada where a spa on the west coast was ordered to close down its fish cleaning spa on the basis of it being unsanitary.

Imagine my surprise when we landed in Crete and I came across many Dr. Fish spa treatments for both hands and feet.  The Garra Rufa fish (a member of the carp family) cleaning craze has spread from the town of Kangal in Turkey where the tiny fish live in hot springs.  With a light sucking, because it has no teeth, the tiny creatures remove the dead cells from your feet (or hands).  At the same time it secretes diathanoli, an enzyme that helps rejuvenate your skin.

Before entering the sterile water I must wash and dry my feet so as not to contaminate the tank and tiny fishes.  I do the same when my thirty minutes (about $22 US) are up.  Fascinated, I watch schools of these little fish attack my poor weary travel-tired feet.  The tank faces the street and suddenly I am the centre of attention as throngs of onlookers watch the frenzy feeding on my feet.

Fish therapy for Heather
Fish Spa – Heather took fish therapy – tiny Garra Ruta fish from Turkey gently remove dead skin. These fish have no teeth but a suction cup-like mouth to lift the dead skin. They also secrete an enzyme, Diathanoli, which contributes to the rejuventation of the skin. They call them fish doctors. Treatments last 30 minutes and cost 15e

Many, many small fish attack my feet and feverishly nibble at my ankles, toes, and soles. I gaze into the tank of water into which my legs are dangling and watch with great interest because the Dr. Fish attendant assures me the fish are only cleaning my feet. “There is nothing to worry about,” she says in English. “This is safe and hygienic and does not hurt.”

While the fish do their work I am transported back to the cool lake of my childhood when I could see minnows in the clear water.  Sometimes, if I was quiet and still, the minnows would come to investigate my feet and I could feel light little nibbles.  It is the same sensation from these throngs of little fish, in Crete, half a world away.

The brochure claims that after only one session I will feel my legs relieved and relaxed since the fish supposedly trigger various acupuncture points on my legs “which balance the nervous system and help the circulation of blood”.  Personally, I did not experience these benefits but perhaps I need more treatments.

The brochure also claims this fish therapy is a favourite of celebrities like Rihanna, Naomi Campbell, Gwyneth Paltrow, Shakira, Johnny Depp and more…..

Well, if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.

Travelled: Fall, 2011

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