Let me tell you a scary story.
It begins on a placid pleasure cruise around the Amalfi Coast. The setting was sublime. A little too perfect…
JS0’s resident klutz (me) made it through the day without incurring any cliff-related concussions or bellyflop-induced stomach rashes. As the trip neared its end, the JS0 crew splashed off the boat one last time to see the one, the only, the Blue Grotto of Capri.
That’s when it happened. While other visitors gasped at the beauty of the blue cove, I gasped at the pain in my black and blue ankle. It was a poignant moment for everyone. Of course, being used to bumping things and being weary of my bandaid box, I ignored the sharp pain in my leg and did a few laps around the grotto. The water was so blue it illuminated its occupants like a strobe light: too cool to miss.
Upon finally crawling back aboard the boat, I saw that my foot was gushing blood and my ankle appeared to have grown a beard. It was filled with sea urchin stingers. Even the tough Australian children on board, who had spent the day fearlessly cliff jumping and dodging jellyfish, shouted in disgust. They forked over their two best bandaids without hesitation. (At this point, I was feeling quite heroic for not crying: “I meant to kick the urchin,” I bravely pronounced.)
What Italian Grandmothers Do to Urchin Stings
Urchin stings are so common in Sorrento, Italy that the pharmacy is stocked with a tailored remedy called After Urchin. One slathers one’s spikes with rubber goo and waxes them off with a sheet of gauze. The tactic worked on the big pieces, but the remaining ones remained submerged in my heel, which now also reeked like a gas station and stuck to all surfaces like superglue. Sigh.
1 week later: Still conducting daily spike excavations. I am now in Ancona, Italy, where the local pharmaceutical grandmother has recommended that I soak my foot in white vinegar. I always wanted a recipe from an Italian grandmother, now I’ve got one. I bet it’s delicious! We’ll see how this goes…