¡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, September 22, 2007


What a spoiled pilgrim I must seem to Saint Jacques: I love the bright and sunny days, but feel most put upon when a day is marked by buckets of rain! Today was such a day.
I didn’t expect anything but yet another day of sunshine as I stepped out the door this morning. What met me was at first sprinkles, then, soon, a full downpour, which did not let up even once during the day’s walk. My spirits were lifted when, quite providentially, (I don’t use the word lightly), in the town of Cluis I stopped for a warming coffee and found Siedse and Evert just walking out of their refuge and across the church square. They joined me for the coffee, and together we continued our journey onto Gargilesse.
They had received word that they should not proceed by the regular route in this rain, since it would be almost impossible to pass, and that they should take the highway instead. Without meeting them I might still be mired in the muck of that path.
At about 17 kms. my boots could not keep up with the rain, and the insides of my fine boots became a mush of wool, coolmax, and rainwater: slish-slosh the rest of the way; ugh!
Gargilesse is a very quaint village of artists, which draws plenty of tourists (though not on rainy September days); it was made famous by a certain George Sand, a woman author and artiste, who seems to have made love to just about everyone of renown of her times, including Franz List and Frédéric Chopin. Aside from that, the church has beautiful frescoes from the XIIth century, worth a side trip from almost anywhere in France you might find yourself.
Now it’s time for bed; the three of us are sharing a room for the night, and tomorrow we cross into the Limousin, and up towards the Massif Central. I have finished the “South Branch” of the chemin de Vezelay. Wow!


Neuvy- St- Sepulchre.
After walking with companions for the last two days, going at it by myself alone today made this day’s solitude on the road all the more deeply felt. As I walked out of La Chatre, a gaggle of schoolgirls stopped me on the sidewalk just to ask who I was, and what I was doing, and where I was from. They giggled and tittered as 11 year olds do worldwide, and seemed delighted to have begun their schoolday having met an old duffer on his way to Spain from Belgium by foot. I was all smiles too as I left them heading down the street waving back at me with great pleasure.
Today’s route had a lot of climbing in it, which made it a bit tougher day than I had expected. Just before entering this town I lost the all important titanium tip off one of my hiking poles, which makes it fairly useless; this is my first major technical malfunction of the pilgrimage so far; not a catastrophe, but an annoyance. I’ll have to wait until I get to Limoges about a week from now to look for a new set.
Neuvy’s center is dominated by an 11th C. round Romanesque basilica, the only such church in France. It was built to hold two relics brought back to the town from the Holy Land: a chip of stone of Jesus’ tomb, and a vial of Jesus’ blood, collected (somehow) from his crucifixion. They are both still on display in a side chapel.
I’m staying in a lovely refuge right in town but next to a lake and grassy park.
Tonight, back in Louvain, a new rector is being installed in the American college, as a new academic year begins. To Bishop David Ricken, Msgr. Ross Shecterle, and all the AC staff and students, who are even now in the midst of a great celebration, I send my pilgrim prayers and I offer this day’s pilgrim walk to you all! God bless you all and make fruitful the work of your hands!