¡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!

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Rocroi, France. Please, if you will, take note of today’s dateline: FRANCE! I made it across the frontier to this lovely little village surrounded by great battle fortifications in the shape of a five-pointed star. My accomplishment today, however, did not come without plenty of toil and travail; this was a tough and dirty day.
Morning broke with heavy clouds and mist covering us from one end of the sky to the other… not a promising beginning for one just yesterday drenched by similar clouds. I got out the door and out of Oignies around 8:30 am; Herman was away about twenty minutes before that, now travelling with backpack, having given up his fancy sled-like rig the previous day. I started out happily enough… no rain after all… and followed the signs and my gps for about two or three kilometers, until, to my horror, I suddenly realized I had just retraced OUT of town my very steps INTO town the day before! I had to choose whether to walk back to Oignies and start over or replot from where I stood. With the help of the gps, I planned a new route that would connect me to the GR trail further on, so off I went, none too cheery since I knew I had just added five or six kilometers to the day’s work, and at least an hour of walking to my program of reaching Rocroi across the border.
What I encountered along the way was a mix of wet grass up to my knees, so much moisture in the air that my glasses fogged up whenever I stopped for a breather, hills up and hills down, and roads, trails, and paths that were presently so loaded with the remains of yesterday, roads that were far more viscous than solid: mud, mud, gooey, sucking, slippery mud! The poet e.e. cummings wrote a poem called ‘in just- spring’ in which he describes the world as ‘mud-luscious,’ but this is now ‘in just JULY’ … the middle of SUMMER, and such mud as I contended with all day is hardly luscious, and it seemed to never end. For hours I picked my way through, over, around, and sometimes just deep into the stuff … it was slow going, very tough work, which has left me exceedingly tired at the end of this day. I want no more of it tomorrow; maybe I’ll take a day off and just hang out here in Rocroi, if for no other reason than to give my clothes and long-suffering boots a chance to dry out (nothing dries in this wetness!).
For all that, still and all, here I am in France … and I walked here … that’s something to be grateful for, considering my ill-starred beginning 12 days ago. And I have no blisters or tendonitis or any of the other usual pilgrim afflictions (amazing really!), and though I am a complete dunce at communicating in French, people are being very kind to me (pilgrims seem to be a somewhat beloved breed around here). So grace abounds, even in the mud of the earth.