¡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, October 13, 2007


Bordeaux??? Aren’t I supposed to be in La Reole? Yes, that’s where I was headed when I cheerily left my refuge in Pellegrue this morning, a challenging 25 km hike.

It wasn’t long before I knew I was in some trouble. For three days or so my plantar fascia, a complex of tendons and their sheaths on the very bottom of the foot/heel has been irritated, but always before walkable. Today was different: it was like walking with a broomstick in my boot. Though not a knife-like pain, the dull ache and feeling of the whole thing being swollen made for very tough going. I covered only 5 km in two hours, and by the time I got to little Saint Ferme, I was very tired and limping badly. I knew I wasn’t going to make it another 20 km, so I asked for help in getting down the road. Saint Ferme has no bus or taxi service so I asked the local baker for help in getting a taxi from the next village to someplace where I might have some options, (walking on not being one of them!)

No taxi available, so the kind baker brought around his little delivery truck, threw my pack and poles in among the baguettes, and drove me the 20 km to La Reole, the same route I should have been walking. He took me to the train station, though I was still thinking of just spending the night in La Reole. The train to Bordeaux was approaching as I got there; so leaving La Reole behind, I hopped on and suddenly found myself in the big noisy hyper-busy world of the city, a long ways from the solitude and tranquility of the “chemin”.

As before, once again I’ve learned it doesn’t take much to crash as a pilgrim; the frailty of the human body is humbling, but humility is a prime pilgrim virtue so it’s part of the pilgrimage too. So tomorrow, Sunday, I’ll hobble off to Mass, lay low, keep off the stressed foot as much as I can, and put off making any decisions about what’s next in my pilgrimage until later. As my train hurtled its way toward Bordeaux, at one point I felt like crying a little, but no tears came; not yet anyway. Maybe they won’t be necessary and I’ll be back on my Way soon. May it be so. Saint-Jacques: Fix me!