¡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!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


After spending last night in Hastière and its fine little refuge for pilgrims, the host, Marcellinus from Togo, Africa, informed Herman of Antwerp and me that there is a direct bicycle route to our destination for today, Doische. I chose the route Marcellinus indicated rather than the zigzaggy GR 654, and indeed it was much more direct and really a pleasant route to walk, most of it through lush green vegetation. I met very few people along the way: a few bicyclists whooshing by on their beautiful machines.
I arrived in Doische after just three-and-a-half hours of walking, so I decided to buy a few things from a small grocery store, then head on down the route another eight or ten kilometers to this little village of Mazee. It took two attempts to find lodging, but I was welcomed happily to a little chambre d’hôte, Le Point du Jour, which overlooks the valley that most of the rest of the village occupies with its old stone homes and the smell of burning fire wood in the air (does that mean it is going to get cold here tonight?). My friend Herman made the same decision as I, so he arrived at the door shortly after me. We don’t walk together but quite often have been ending up at the same places in the afternoon, so we share tales of the day and plans for the morrow.
I have been skirting the French border all day, sometimes just a few meters from it. (A horn of French territory juts up into Belgium; I’m walking along its western side.) Tomorrow I may definitively enter France or perhaps stop just short of it, if the day gets too long. I have gotten to know a side of Belgium I never really knew so much about; Wallonia is beautiful in its great rurality, and certainly I have enjoyed these days the sing-songy ‘Bonjour, Monsieur!’ that is the ever-cheery greeting I receive as I pass by.
Heavy clouds still hang about, but no rain fell on me today. I am grateful for that and for so very much else. Now to figure out what to eat for dinner in a place with one bar and no restaurants!