¡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!

Sunday, July 8, 2007


After a pleasant evening with Père Bernard at his rectory in Yvoir, I had a very short walk this morning into the touristic village of Dinant, only eight kilometers. I arrived at the church of the Abbey of Leffe just as mass was beginning. The priest was front and center leading the penitential rite when I came through the door. He looked at me but didn’t miss a beat. The liturgy was very beautifully done, and it was a joy to be seated, sweaty and probably smelly, in the last row. At the end of mass everyone knew what I was up to and greeted me warmly, and one monk retrieved the abbey seal to stamp my pilgrim passport/credential. He told me that they receive about two pilgrims a day, which is way more than I would have expected. Two other times today I was recognized as a pilgrim, my cockleshell hanging from my pack being the giveaway. I am amazed and touched in retrospect by how they and almost everyone else then treat me, not as a dumb tourist who can’t even speak French but as a sort of hero: they smile kindly, go out of there way to make things easy for me, and say a final word like “Courage!” to me as they wave me on. I need that courage and encouragement because there are so many moments when I myself think I’m nuts for attempting this and for worrying about all the things that might go wrong even if they don’t. The temptation to catch the next train back to Leuven is strong, especially in places like this where the train station is only a couple of blocks away. I would be home in an hour! Tomorrow I follow the Meuse River another day and then it’s back to the GR trail that will take me out of this lovely valley and towards the French border. I imagine I will encounter for the first time lots of steep grades that will put my weak knee to the test in a new way. Also there are few towns of any size, so the going could get tougher finding lodging, and I am without my beautiful but too heavy tent! Well, as I write this it is raining again; the sunshine was nice while it lasted, but all things wet and damp is the norm I’ve gotten used to.