¡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, 2012

Just look at those mountains!

For the second night in a row I have access to wifi so can write from the screen of my phone (so easy compared to writing from a French language keyboard!)
Today's trek from Sainte-Susanne to Sauveterre, (20 kms), was one filled with a number of very serious climbs and descents,almost all of them on wooded paths that were, after the recent rains, mostly slick and slippery mud. It wasn't so easy, but with the able assistance of my hiking poles, ("Click and Clack"), I got through it all without landing on my rear end.
The highlight of this "etape" was coming over a rise for my first view of the Pyrenees on the horizon: beautiful to behold and truly glorious in their blue majesty!
After a few hours of walking I began to feel the tendon in my lower right leg complain; tendons out here are always a matter of great concern. If they go bad on you they can stop you in your tracks. I've been doing my best along the way to care for them properly, but you just never know. The low ache came and went thought the morning…not bad, but concerning. I iced them upon settling in here, but tonight I can still feel it. Gentle stretches are next.
Speaking of arrivals, I had no plan for lodging tonight and this town has no public refuge for pilgrims. As I walked down a street just off of the main church square, heading for the Tourist Office, I noticed a sign for "hebergement pellerin"; great! I rang the bell and almost immediately the wide door opened to reveal the petite and lovely Gabriela, a British native who loves to care for pilgrims like myself. She welcomed me in and set me up in her pilgrim "gite" and this evening served me a great meal suitable for at least three pilgrims! This 70-something is a wonder and a marvel and a dynamo, she also just happens to have a garden out back, as well as an antique store, and is renovating the house here, much of it by herself. Would that I might be so energetic and vivacious as Gabriela!
Tomorrow will be an important day; I won't know if my self-treatments for my legs work or not until I am out on the road; it is a fairly short walk tomorrow which is good. I have less than 50 kms left; it would be a shame not to finish now or be in pain all the way, but as they say here: "que sera sera". And as I have to be reminded often enough: the real pilgrimage is not about maps, kilometers or geography; it is a matter of learning and loving along the way…