¡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, September 20, 2007

La Chatre

My two Dutch companions and I got the new day off to a less than speedy start, not getting on our way until nearly 9.30 am. That is their usual pattern, not mine, but in truth I didn’t mind very much for I was very happy to have their company for another day. We had quickly grown used to one another and made a good little pilgrim team together.
So off we went to walk another day, me just 18 kms, they almost 36 kms.
It was a bright and fresh morning, cool and sunny as we passed through fields of cut hay, black sunflowers ready for harvest, and occasionally a bit of oak forest. After about 2 hours we took a break in some tall grass shaded by leafy poplars. Sietse found some ripe grapes on a stray vine which he shared out to Evert and me. I said aloud, “I can’t think of a single reason to complain just now; the sun is shining, the sky is blue, my legs are strong, I’m eating ripe grapes from the wild and I’m with two fine pilgrim companions. What more in life could a man ever want?”
After a final meal together in a little restaurant in Lacs we walked the last 2 or 3 kms. into La Chatre and made our way up to the church in the town center. We took some time inside, then returned outdoors to make our goodbyes, for they were committed to going on. Evert asked (again) if I wouldn’t walk further with them but I declined; I’d had enough for one day, especially after 2 very long days before. So we dropped our packs, gave one another a fraternal embrace, then went off in opposite directions, they to continue walking and I back to the Youth Hostel where I planned to spend the night.
I found the hostel but was disappointed to discover that it would not open for two more hours; so I found a little park near a stream and sprawled out in the grass to make my traveling plans and reserve accommodations for the next two nights. I also wrote of the day in my journal, then at 5:00 pm walked back to the hostel and got my room. As it turns out, I’m the only one in the place tonight so I have it all to myself.
I wonder if Sietse and Evert made their additional 18 kms and if they found a decent place to spend the night wherever they finally landed? Santiago will take care of them, I’m sure…