Fish Spa and Flashbacks

Ooooh boy! The bridesmaids had a good day today! At nine a.m. the bus picked us up and took us to see Dr. Fish.

"I've got our tickets!"

Waiting for our bus to take us to the spa






Dr. Fish is a spa cruise that takes you and 49 other people over the ocean to a calm stretch of water and treats you to pampering spa services. Our cruise was one of the day trips offered by Ocean Adventures in the Dominican. I’d taken day trips by boat beforeand so , with 100mg of gravol dissolving in my stomach I prepared myself for  blaring loudpeakers, ‘booze cruise’ headache and of course, sea sickness. I couldn’t have been more wrong…


We started out little adventure by soaking our feet in an ionization bath. A current runs from an attachment on your finger to the water in the foot bath and along it’s way it collects toxins and muck from your body. The yucky stuff then exits your body through your feet and settles at the bottom of your foot bath.

My icky toxin-filled foot water after a soak in an ionization bath

The water looked pretty yucky looking after our 15 minute soak.

Next up was a relaxing sun soak over the caribbean waves…The cruise team led us one by one down the steps and laughed as uncoordinated and clumsy tourists tried to balance on the floating mats. Then they towed us out to a rope and tied us up so we could lie in the warm sun for 15 minutes. Unfortunately today it was very windy so instead of recharging in the warm caribbean sun we froze as the chilly waves crashed over our shivering heads.Then it was time for yoga….well, not exactly yoga- more like easy stretching. To the soft sing-song voice of our beautiful Dominican techer, we moved in our wet bathing suits, through easy pose, some neck stretches and the easiest sit up I’ve ever done.

There was a little time afterward to lounge on the massve bean-bag beds as the boat took us from where we were moored to the climax of our little adventure. The fish spa.

 I was about seven and spending the summer at the family cottage in SW Manitoba. My uncle took me out on the boat for my first fishing adventure. I was so excited and also a little nervous. I’d been repeatedly warned that if I cought something, I was not to let go of the rod. The fish could tug and pull with all it’s might and still I was instructed to hold that line tight. “Ok” I thought, “I can do it. I’m a big girl now.” We trolled along the waters edge- just a stones throw from the thick weeds that the crayfish loved to hid in.

“Don’t ever swim in those weeds.” My mother had often warned. “They’ll wrap themselves around your legs and pull you under. Even if you are wearing a life jacket.”

Troll close to the weeds, but not into them- that was the best place for fishing. Don’t let go of the rod and don’t fall in. I was ready.

Then, after what felt like forever- a bite! A BIG bite. The fish pulled my line out so fast I couldn’t get a grip to reel it in. “Help me!” I yelled to my uncle accross the boat. “I can’t hold on!” The rod was slipping out of my fingers, but I couldn’t let go- I’d been told NOT to drop that line. Then I was slipping, dragged up to the edge of the boat. I could feel the hard metal- hot from the noon day sun burning into my arms as I struggled to keep my little fingers wrapped around the rod. Each metal grommet bit into my flesh like a poker drawn straight out of a fire. “Help me!” I wailed, terrified of being pulled over the edge and drowned in the weeds. “Help! I can’t hold on!”

“Pass it here!” shouted my uncle and he grabbed the rod from me. I moved back and watched as he tugged and then reeled, tugged and reeled that fish back from the weeds and over to our boat. Then, with a triumphant whoop he pulled the fish overboard. It slapped and flopped on the boat’s tinny bottom desperate for water- desperate to live. And then my uncle whacked it. He raised the wooden club and brought it down again and again on that poor fish. I had never before witnessed something so violent and it made me feel sick. He struck that fish until it stopped moving. It felt like it took an eternity to die. Back on shore again my mom tried to make me stand next to the fish we’d caught so she could get a picture, but everytime the slimy fish had one of the convulsive spasms that follow death I’d scream. I had been absolutely traumatized.

Garra Rufa, the Dr. Fish

And now we were going to a fish spa. I wasn’t so sure I was ready to stick me feet in a vat filled with slimy little fish whose purpose was to suck the dead skin from between my toes.

“Oh come on!” The girls cajolled. “It’s like being ticked with a feather.” The Garra Rufa fish had come all the way from the fresh waters of Turkey to nibble on my calluses. I tentatively stuck in a toe…then a foot. I let the little fish take one lick and then out came my foot as fast as can be.

The fish liked Andrea's feet best. I only let one touch me and I was DONE!

“There, I’ve overcome my fear of fish…and I’m DONE!” I got back on the boat.

The bride-to-be gets a nice rub down

massage beds...not quite as good as the real thing.

Back on the boat, my adrenaline came back into check and I went for a lovely 15 minute massage. Half of us did ‘hand massage’ with a real person and the other half did ‘chair massage with an electronic piece of furniture…then we switched.

It was the perfect end to a relaxing adrenaline-filled morning. I’d definitely do it again…minus the fish bit. Truly an experience to last a lifetime!

Thank you Pedro!


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