¡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, October 11, 2007


An October pilgrim couldn’t ask for a better day than the one the Creator of the universe granted me today. Even before the sun rose over the horizon on little La Cabane, it was evident we had ourselves a perfectly clear sky above our heads. After so many days of gloomy overcast, this was a treat indeed.

I enjoyed my petit dejeuner with Noëlle and her friends, dawdled over my coffee, not wanting to leave so soon such good folks, but finally hefted Gregory on my back and started down the road under the loveliest of sunshine and blue skies. Soon I passed my first vineyard in weeks; it was like seeing an old friend again, though at this time of year the vines are tinged with brown and many seem to have already had their fruit harvested. (When I passed through Champagne the grapes were still so immature, hardly grapes at all; how far I’ve come in time and geography!)
After about 2 1/2 hours on the road I stopped on the grassy verge of one of these vineyards, sat down in the grass, soaked up the autumn sunshine, listened to the back and forth songs of the birds, and snacked on granola bars. As I said, just about perfect!

Along the way I met up with a farmer herding his cattle from one field to another. He came up to me and asked: “A Compostelle?” "Yes", I said, and answered his other questions about where I have come from and what kind of work I do. When I told him that I am a priest, he went sad and said: “There are no more priests here; almost all gone, no Masses in our churches; everything is changing. Our villages are dying, the young don’t want to live here anymore. Our farms are dying too. My own children have gone to the cities and don’t want to farm. Who will feed the world when we are gone? Milk will be like petrol, always the price going up, up, up….”. He shook his head in resigned disgust, then smiled at me and shook my head again: “Courage, M’sieur.” And “Courage” to you as well, M'sieur.

The last kilometer into La Foy was a steep downhill goat trail that was a real challenge to end the day with; my guide book called it a “plonge”. And I can only presume that’s Francais for “plunge”, a singularly appropriate description of this trail down to the Dordogne river valley.
The town is a thriving place with lots of “old world character”. I’m staying the night in the local parish house, which now serves as a pilgrim refuge as well as parish catechism center and other uses. I’m alone in the big old place so rattle about a bit – all the more reason to get into town for a 5 pm beer and later a pizza. The almost perfect end to an almost perfect day!