¡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!

Saturday, July 7, 2007


My day began on a glum and grim note: not much sleep due to a pesky mosquito buzzing me every time I began to nod off … until I was no longer able to nod off. He won … I never managed to swat him as the hours dragged on. Dawn came with rain and wind battering the old, worn rectory of Father Paul, and I felt no inclination to spend the coming day fighting yet more of this dreadful weather. When I went downstairs to the kitchen to join Paul for his breakfast, his animated spirit did much to make the gloom lift. At one point he declared, “Every day is a great day for me. I have never been unhappy even one day in my life. That is my charism, I suppose.” I was ready to begin my own happy day when Paul offered to drive to the edge of Perwez, not something I would usually accept, since part of the pilgrim spirit for many is the importance of walking every step of the way. But his pilgrim hospitality trumped my pilgrim purity, so I agreed, and off we went together. When I thanked him for all his kindness, he just laughed his great laugh and declared, “It’s the normal thing to do, nothing more.”
Today’s walk to Namur was not so easy; powerful winds buffeted me almost the entire day, and I was mostly confined to highways instead of roads and trails like yesterday. But the most challenging thing was just the distance involved, somewhere around twenty-eight kilometres, a six-and-a-half hour hike. My fragile knee held up, but it is quite sore tonight. A good night sleep is good medicine, though.
It seemed as though Namur would never appear as I walked the last few kilometres. But once I hit its northern limit, it took another forty-five minutes to cross through its busy commercial centre and find my way to the town’s youth hostel. My roommate for the evening is also a pilgrim, Herman from Antwerp. He is sixty-three and pulling his stuff behind him on a special little wagon made just for the purpose. We had dinner here together. He is the first pilgrim I have met so far. I am feeling a lot of temptation to quit, but I remember this from last time and another, wiser pilgrim’s advice: “Don’t quit until you’ve been on the road for at least five days. The first week is always the hardest.”
I ran into a very funny old lady as I passed by a dairy barn this morning. She came bounding out of a shed to see who was making all the racket (my walking poles are very noisy on pavement and cement), and then with great interest probed into what I was up to, then called her grizzled husband over to see this curiosity. They had never heard of Compostelle but seemed delighted that somebody was doing something so nutty. That’s all for today. If my knee still aches in the morning, I may take a day off here in Namur, because the next segment involves lots of fairly steep climbing and descending. Well anyway, I’m happy I made it this far.