¡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!

Monday, September 24, 2007

La Souterraine

Once again, morning broke as a misty and damp one, though the dawn sky showed through with a hint of blue, promising a fair day for walking. Young Evert awoke with a very upset stomach, so the decision was made over breakfast for him and Sietse to take a taxi to La Souterraine, and then from there Evert would return home. So for a second time we made our farewells, and thereafter, down the path I went, alone again.
The route took me first into a deep river valley, all green and lush and dark. There the two French young men I met yesterday, Pierre and Thibault, caught up to me, and we walked and talked together for a while, until my legs just couldn’t keep up with their much younger models; we met again several times over the day, and they are staying in the same refuge as I tonight. It is a B+B/ pilgrim refuge, that I found quite by accident. I was looking for the Tourist Information Office, after arriving in town, but was going completely the wrong direction. I sensed something was not right; then I noticed an elderly woman in her living room with the window to the street wide open, so I called in and asked her directions. She fairly laughed at how lost I was, but told me that if I needed a room for the night, the big house just down the street surely would take me in. I found the house, and indeed was taken in by Duncan and Lisa, an English couple starting up a B+B here. In their spare rooms they also take in us pilgrims. They made us a lovely dinner tonight, and are treating us like family.
As over the past days, the way has been generally climbing, as it moves up and on top of France’s Massif Central. At day’s end now I can really feel the cumulative effects of that rise in altitude; my legs are quite fatigued. A good night’s sleep usually takes care of that; it’s quite restorative!
Duncan says tomorrow should be nice weather, but more rain is expected Wednesday and Thursday, just when I should be crossing the highest point on the French Chemin, Mont Ambazac. Limoges is only a few days away, so that gives me renewed courage, even with more rain imminent..