My host in Barcelona reminded me of a pirate. Everything from his long, beaded dreads to his eccentric piercings made me think of Captain Jack Sparrow. He also enjoyed strange music. When we first met, there was a bizarre song playing in the background. It sounded like something that was produced in a metal factory combined with the croaking of a frog.
I’m sure he could tell that I was nervous. I try to be open-minded about meeting new people but considering I would be sleeping on his couch, I couldn’t help but feel a little anxious. Luca was only the second host on my European adventures so I was still a little tentative.
The following evening I returned from a long day of exploring to find Luca preparing dinner in the kitchen. Curiously I asked what he was cooking.
“I’m making a vegan burger,” he smiled.
“A vegan burger?” I repeated, surprised by his answer. “I didn’t know you were a vegan.”
“Well I’m not completely and fully one-hundred percent, but I try my best to be. I feel good when I do it.”
“What is it that inspired you to pursue a vegan lifestyle?” I asked as I watched him reach into the garbage and move a misplaced bottle to recycling.
“One night my friend and I ventured towards an open field for stargazing,” he began. “Around one or two in the morning, a herd of cattle came walking by. Trailing the pack was a large bull. The herd kept walking but the bull stopped. He locked his eyes on us. He didn’t move. He then started stomping his foot and snorting heavily through his nose. I think he was debating on whether not to charge.”
Luca raised his two pointer fingers on either side of his nose to mimic the bull’s aggressive behavior.
“What happened next?” I asked, surprised by how invested I was in his story.
“We didn’t know what to do so we just sat there, not moving a muscle. It felt like hours but finally the bull turned away and left us alone. He could have easily killed us, but he didn’t. He just let us be. In that moment I realized how beautiful they were. He respected us and we respected them. So why is it that we treat these animals so bad?”
His story was slightly unconventional but I understood the message. Regardless of his reasonings, he was thinking of something or someone other than himself.
I don’t remember what my initial impression of Luca was but it definitely wasn’t the tree-hugging, animal loving, eco-friendly, adventurer that I came to know. Truthfully, my recent decision to become a vegetarian is largely inspired by his story. The idea of contributing to a bigger cause through a series of small actions is rewarding.
The more that I think about it, the more I realize that had I come across Luca before this, I’m not sure if I would have had the confidence to say hello. It’s hard to truly understand the phrase, ‘never judge a book by its cover,’ until you meet someone who makes you realize you may have done just that.