¡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!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


I am holed up this Wednesday afternoon in a little "chambre d'hote", or B&B, near the village of Sainte-Suzanne, just 4 kms from the town of Orthez. Yesterday at almost the end of the day's walk, I left the Department of Landes and entered the final department of the journey, Pyranees Atlantique, another small milestone (are there such things as "milestones" in a land in which everything is measures metrically?).
I have been walking well, thanks in part to the cooler weather that has settled over much of western Europe. The skies are very heavy and both yesterday and today I was rained upon. I'll take the rain to the heat any day! My feet are in good shape, all blisters now well healed, and my tendons seem okay, but I continue to worry about one of them going bad on me before I can get this thing done. I'm taking it a day at a time, doing the stretches my brother, Bill, (the PT), taught me, and trying to drink as much water as I can hold, and so far so good. Avoiding long daily walks over 20 kms certainly helps.
My Brazilian friend, Luiz, took a video of me walking down the road today and showed me afterwards. I was horrified! I don't glide forward like the other pilgrims; I WADDLE like a top-heavy duck! Ill try to do better in the days left, but perhaps it is just too late for me to glide like the Europeans do!
I stopped in the Orthez tourist office this afternoon and came upon tourists; well, that wasn't so surprising, but these were two AMERICAN tourists, which is rather rare this far south in France. We had a fun chat for awhile, (sorry, ladies, I've forgotten your names already!), about the pilgrimage experience. They had both seen the movie, The Way, and have known about the Compostela pilgrimage. I told them my story in brief, but not so brief as to not get in a plug for my book. They were very happy to actually meet a "real pilgrim" and promised to read the book! It was a fun moment!
Likewise fun, yesterday while I was walking along, a car pulled over and the elderly Frenchman inside called me over just to great me and wish me well. He was very happy to meet an American pilgrim, such a rare breed out here. He gave me a copy of a poem for peace that he had written (sadly, I can only figure some of it out), and we both agreed to "pray for peace for America, peace for France, and peace for all the world!" he introduced himself as Serge, and when I told him my name was "Kevin", he laughed and smiled broadly and told me his grand-son is also Kevin. With a smile and a laugh, the angel, Serge, drove off. He made my day.
I have under 70 kms left, I think. I expect to arrive in St-Jean-Pied-de-Port on Sunday, if all goes well between now and then; maybe if I get a final burst of pilgrim fever, I might make it even on Saturday.
I continue to pray for family, friends, and parishioners as I walk and when I have the opportunity to rest in a church along the Way. Thanks for your prayers for me as I get in down this road.