Jerry and his wife, Sharon Boggon, were two of my Camino angels when I walked the Camino Frances, in 2018.
I’m so excited to share my interview with Jerry Everard, who is seriously one of my favourite people. Jerry is a philosopher, historian, writer, musician, and photographer. Oh, and he also has two PhDs. One of them, he humorously claims to have obtained “by accident.”
I almost kept walking past when I heard him say this the first time we met (too intimidating!). I’m glad I didn’t, because Jerry is a true gentleman, and prone to dishing out the occasional “Dad” joke when you least expect it.
Walking the Camino with Jerry and Sharon was one of the best experiences of my life. We laughed across Spain until our faces hurt.
So, grab your favourite beverage and read about Jerry’s captivating Camino experience and insights. I also encourage you to check out his website, The Fog Watch, for more of Jerry’s profound insights on travel from a philosopher/historian perspective.
1. When did you walk the Camino and which route did you walk?
2016, 2018, 2022. I walked the Camino Frances with my wife, Sharon.
2. When you initially started, what did you imagine the walk to be like?
I imagined it to be a long walk in Europe with interesting historical buildings, and a chance to reflect on what my retirement from formal work should look like
3. Halfway through, what was your primary feeling about your walk?
My main feeling was that the Camino is more an amazing community — the world should be more like this.
4. If you came across another Pilgrim what were the first two questions, you would ask them?
How are you? What have you learned so far on the Camino?
5. Did you do any training beforehand? If so, what did you do?
Yes, we walked about 5-10km per day in a nature reserve, for about three months, wearing in our boots/shoes, and the last six weeks with loaded packs.
6. What was the one thing you packed that you were glad to have with you?
My camera — Canon 80D with one zoom lens (Tamron 18-270). It was my 1.5kg Camino burden, but so worth it!
7. What was the one thing you packed that you could have left behind?
On my first Camino I took a solar rechargeable power pack. It was heavy, and I discovered that in full sun it would take about a week to fully recharge. I binned it (interpretation: threw it in the garbage).
8. Would you walk a Camino again? If yes which route, would you walk and why? If no, why not?
Yes definitely — in a heartbeat! Frances route because of the community of pilgrims. The other routes seem to be quite solitary. And yes you can have time to yourself on the Frances, but you can always share a coffee with other pilgrims when you want to.
9. Which was your favourite albergue and why?
Casa Susi in Trabadelo. The hosts Sue and Fermin are warm and generous. She is a fantastic cook for the communal meal (all fresh from their garden) and there are no bunk beds. Oh yes, and the shower rooms are spacious!
10. If you’re open to sharing, what did you learn about yourself?
Sharon and I have been together over 40 years. In many ways we each discovered the person we married re-emerge. I had become quite jaded and cynical at work, and the Camino restored a lot of my faith in humanity. I learned to trust people more, to ask for help (something I still struggle with); and that after 60 I can still do something a bit epic.
11. When you began you walk, what was your motivation to walk the Camino? What about at the end of your walk?
When I began my first Camino, I saw it as an opportunity to take some time out for reflection, that didn’t involve waiting for death in my garden. So perhaps I had a sense that this would be something of a spiritual journey. By the end, I had become pilgrim. The Camino shapes you, reminds you what your better self might look like. By the end it was most definitely a spiritual journey — a journey of the mind for which the vehicle is your feet.
12. Did you continue walking to Finisterre or Muxia?
No, we took the bus. But we will walk it at some point.
13. If you gave one piece of advice to someone thinking of walking the Camino, what would that be?
Train for the Camino — find hills and stairs, but train and train well. It’s not an American through-hike, but it is rugged in parts, and if you have led a sedentary lifestyle you definitely need to train — including training the mind. Above all: you can do this!
14. Do you feel the Camino changed you?
Yes. I became less cynical, more open to others, and I rediscovered my creative self.
15. How do you feel you brought the Camino home with you?
I tried hard and consciously to bring the pilgrim in me back home. That means small things, like treating shop assistants like fellow human beings, using their name, asking if I’ve pronounced it correctly. More broadly, being more open to showing kindness and compassion for others.
16. Do you feel your Camino was a pilgrimage, or was it was more of a long-distance walk?
Definitely a pilgrimage. You don’t have to go seeking great answers, or be religious. The Camino shapes you if you’re open to it, to become your best self, and an opportunity to model that best self before you return to your daily routine.
17. Do you feel the Camino is for everyone? Why or why not?
No, it’s not for everyone. It’s a pilgrimage, not a wilderness hike or a race — if you want those things then there are plenty of good challenging hikes. What makes the Camino different is the inward journey, the community and the sense of purpose.
18. What would you like to see more, or less (other than less toilet paper) of, on the Camino?
More kindness and courtesy (eg bells on bikes), more accommodation, more power-points.
19. What was your favourite city (town or village) on your Camino route, and why?
I think it would be a toss-up between Astorga, Logroño, or perhaps O’ Cebreiro.
20. If someone didn’t know what the Camino was or about, what would you tell them (in three sentences or less)?
The Camino is a purposeful/intentional journey along a medieval pilgrimage route. It is an inner journey undertaken at a human pace. It is a time out of time that can give you an opportunity to remodel your best self before you immerse back into the maelstrom of life.
You can find Jerry’s reflections and insights into the Camino on his website, The Fog Watch. Jerry is a writer, traveller and photographer with an insatiable curiosity about the world. He’s been known to play celtic music on a hardanger fiddle, write blog posts on an ironing board, and turn pens from wood. His first book was about the internet, and he’s had short fiction published in virtual and real worlds, along with the occasional feature news article.