¡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, September 27, 2007


After a full night of rain, this morning broke like an opening scene from a Dickens novel: bleak. Cold winds chased the thick mists through the soaked streets of Bénévent as I departed my cozy B+B after breakfast. The damp cold was bracing, and seemed to cut through my clothes and chill my bones right from the start. This was the kind of morning designed to test the mettle of even the strongest of pilgrims. Fortunately, I had had my day off, and felt strong before the inclemencies. I took off at a brisk pace, and maintained it for much of the day, working up quickly a warm sweat to fight the cold.
The first several kms. were easy, either level, or running slightly downhill, but after that it was mostly a long, often steep climb, up to the highest point of the whole pilgrimage, the village of Saint-Goussaud at 668m. (about 2000 feet) above sea level. There the mists had turned into certifiable clouds, the white fog wrapping itself around and about everything, making the whole world seem moody and mysterious. The fir and cedar trees that grow up there were only dark silhouettes in the midst off this stuff. After checking to see if the XIIth century church was open (nope), I stopped for lunch at a bar/restaurant and ordered the plat du jour, a really nice bit of beef in a light sauce – not bad for a mountaintop village with almost no visible inhabitants.
Sitting in the restaurant in wet clothes for almost an hour gave me the chills, and so as I left I headed down the goat track of a path with as much speed as I could safely muster; get that furnace fired again, Kev!
I dropped out of the clouds as I descended towards Chatelus, and even had about 30 seconds of dim sunshine on the way to warm my spirits if not my body. THANK YOU, GOD!
Upon arriving in Chatelus I found the village pilgrim refuge with the kind help of a lone lady in the street. Already settling in was Jacqueline, a French lady who had walked the same route as I today though we never met. An experienced pilgrim, she started this pilgrimage in Vezelay, is going on tomorrow to Saint-Leonard, and there calling it quits. The cold and rain have her ready for the return home. She tells me I am the first other pilgrim she has met since Vezelay. I think she is also tired of being alone.
After our showers and laundry were done, we walked together up to the village church, but found it locked up, as are so many of these treasures.
A little bit of sunshine is breaking through at this late afternoon, but great black clouds still dominate the sky, and it is hardly warm. The forecast sees lightning coming our way, according to this morning’s local newspaper.
Tomorrow’s walk is a very long one, almost 30 kms., but there are places to stop along the way if it gets too rough. We’ll just have to wait to see what comes our way.