¡Buen Camino!

Dear Friends,
It has taken three tries and nine years, but as of July 2012, I have finally walked the entire Way of Compostela from my former home in Leuven/Louvain, Belgium, to Santiago de Composela!
My first pilgrimage experience from the French frontier with Spain to Santiago itself took place in 2003. You can read the details of this first walk along the famous Camino across Spain in my book, To The Field of Stars: A Pilgrim's Journey to Santiago de Compostela, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (2008). (You can order it from the publisher, from Amazon.com, or from your local bookseller).
In the summer and early fall of 2007, I walked from Belgium most of the way across France, with the hope of at least making it to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port near the Spanish border, where I began the first pilgrimage. I didn't quite make it. A bad case of plantar fasciitis took me down in the Bordeaux village of Sainte-Ferme. I continued on to Santiago by train and bus, but the "defeat of my feet" and those last 175 miles or so that were left undone, gnawed at me over the ensuing five years. Happily, I was finally able to wrap up this grand pilgrimage with a third walk from Sainte-Ferme to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port this past summer (2012). It was a joy to have completed all 2,370 kilometers between Leuven and Santiago.
My adventures and misadventures, my thoughts and prayers of both the 2007 and 2012 pilgrimages have been shared in this blog. I will leave the blog and its archives open for some time to come; if you want to read bits and pieces of it, feel free, but remember that the beginning is at the bottom and the end is at the top.
My contact e-mail remains the same: kacodd@gmail.com; I am always happy to receive mail!
As the pilgrims in Spain greet one another, so I greet you, my reader: "Buen Camino!"
And as the people of France greet their pilgrims along the "Chemin", I also wish to you: "Courage!"

Grace and peace to you all!

Saturday, July 7, 2007


This Saturday was blessed with fine walking weather, cool and mostly sunny, little wind, and no rain. I left the Auberge de Jeunesse at about 9:00 am for a relatively short hike to the riverside village of Riviere, where I hoped to find the local priest and asked for a place to stay … but I was told he is sick and would not be back. With my fellow pilgrim from Antwerp, Herman, we moved on to the next town, Godinne, where things seemed more promising. As we entered the village, we came upon a 91-year-old priest walking along, so we asked him where we might spend the night. He told us we should walk across town to the large Jesuit College there. We trundled to the massive buildings and looked for someone to help us. An old Jesuit well into his 80s came upon us and went to look for the superior but didn’t find him, so he led us to a grassy field to wait an hour or so until the superior returned. We rested in the grass, ate a snack, and then were surprised when the old Jesuit returned to tell us that our request for a place to spend the night had been turned down. Oh well. We left. Then Herman went his own way. I began searching the town for the parish church, finding it only after thirty minutes of wandering about. An old lady was in the sacristy. I did my best to explain my predicament in my altogether broken French, but she got the idea and told me that the parish priest wouldn’t be around until mass time at 5:30, two hours later. I left feeling terrible frustration, as it seemed I might be spending the night on a park bench. So I went off with my pack and sticks looking for any kind of lodging. Nothing … so back to the church. I sat in its cool interior and read the Sunday readings, which consoled me … Jesus telling his seventy-two to hit the road without packs or sandals. At 5:25 Père Bernard, a young priest, arrived and greeted me like a brother, even welcoming me to concelebrate the mass with him. He is taking care of me tonight. God bless him! So another pilgrim day under my belt. Tomorrow I will have a short walk to Dinant. I’ll follow the riverside path rather than the official route, which is all up and down and a lot further as it zigzags across the countryside. The Meuse River is beautiful, so I’ll keep following it.