In 2015, I had the good pleasure to take a long-term stay at my grandparents’ place in Costa Rica. They live high in the mountains and there is a steep winding road to get up to their place. The scenery is beautiful and I would walk down the hill to the road and then back up every morning.
The air is amazing in the mountains, but the emission controls in the country are not. When I would pass a car coming up the road, I would choke on the fumes until they were long gone.
Once again the universe would present me with the opportunity to take the path less chosen.
I started to walk through a cow pasture for the majority of my trip. When I say cow pasture, normally my first thought is the endless plains of my native Texas. Flat.
But in Costa Rica, the pasture was on a steep hill. I once heard that cattle can not go up and down steps but I have seen a cow as nimble as a mountain goat hopping up natural steps on an incline.
During my daily journey down the mountain, I would occasionally come across a group of cows, always giving them a wide berth.
There were two white cows and one black and brown bull. The bull would stamp or snort at me letting me know to keep my distance. Sometimes he would start towards me if I ventured too close to his harem.
I was told by everyone to watch out for that bull, he was mean.
After a couple of months, we were comfortable enough with each other and content that we would not approach the other unwarranted. There was no longer trepidation between us, just respect.
Occasionally, in the afternoon, the cows would be moved to the other pasture which was the opposite side of my grandparents’ house. Up the mountain instead of down the mountain.
A few days before we were to leave Costa Rica, I saw the bull was trying to reach the fallen guava from the other side of the barbed wire fence. I figured I would help out and tossed him the guava. He ate it gratefully, so I tossed him another. You could tell he was loving the guava so I started picking up all the fruit on the ground and feeding him. Eventually, I went through the barbed wire fence and was petting him feeding him.
I really felt we were bonding.
The next day, my grandma had the bull killed for our going away feast. She mentioned how it was good since he was so mean.
When I found out I was heartbroken. Having just befriended the terrifying bull and learning he was a big sweetie who loved hanging out and eating guava.
Chom, who I have known since I was a kid, manages the ranch and told Delilah at dinner that night how he had raised this bull, and the animals were like his babies. It made him sad to have to kill him but what was he to do?
Even while I’m writing this, I don’t think I will become a vegan for life. However, I do think there is something to knowing when I eat meat, I am participating in the killing of a being that has feelings. It is important for me to not be too far removed from that fact.
The bull that was killed for our going away feast, I would have rather let live if I had the choice. It warms my heart to know he was able to roam free during his life, hang out with some sexy girl cows, graze on some grass, enjoy the scenic Costa Rica mountain views, and from time to time had sweet guava as a guilty pleasure.