According to the shop’s brochure, these fish like the dead skin cells that all of us have in abundance on our feet. I thought it best not to ponder that statement, and just lean back and focus on what it feels like to be the main course during a feeding frenzy.
When individual Garra Ruffa chewed on me, it tickled. But when 10 to 15 gathered at a time, mainly at my heel, it felt like I’d slipped into a vibrating boot. Not a bad way to spend 10 minutes wondering how in the world we’d chanced upon something like this.
When Betty realized I wouldn’t become a ghoulish headline in a tabloid newspaper, she joined in the fun. Her fish seemed to focus on the soft spots between her toes. What that says about Betty as a host is open to interpretation.
It’s an encounter with the unexpected that livens up the grind of the workaday world. The same can be said for a vacation, where so much is planned and scheduled ahead of time. It’s one thing to stumble upon an interesting café or piece of art in an alleyway in the heart of Rome. It’s quite another to be a late-afternoon snack for a school of fish, and live to write the tale.
John Edmondson is a teacher in Hampstead.