Posted on a later day, 10.29.13, I chose to keep the dates in mark with their corresponding dates from our Hajj trip for convenience. You can see a link of all the post-trip posts by clicking here and scrolling down. Click here to see the previous day’s post and click here to see the next day’s post.
Sunday October 13.
It’s officially the first day of hajj (with tomorrow being THE day of hajj [day of Arafat]).
The first bus/group (16) from our program left from the Aziziya apartment building for the Mena camp around 11:15 AM (give or take 15 minutes). By 12:40 PM, when bus 18 came… bus 16 hadn’t reached our destination- about 2 km/1 mile from here. FYI, anytime someone said anything to me in km or degrees celcius, I had to Google it to convert.
Before leaving, we entered the state of ihram once again. This time it would be for several days– until Tuesday morning! Our bus, 19, finally came around 12:50 PM and left relatively quickly by 1 PM after a original departure time of 9:30 AM that was revised to 10:30 AM at breakfast time [around 6:30ish in the morning]. We got to our Mena camps in 45 minutes. 45 minutes for one mile’s worth of travel? Sadly, this is nothing compared to what other travel times were like. The last bus (23) from our program got to Mena around 3:20 PM.
Our “camp” held 22 women in very close quarters. As in you had absolutely no space between the foldable sleeping chair (no exaggeration whatsoever), 11 on one side and 11 on the other with barely space for one foot to fit in between. You can imagine the balancing act that took place.
Our “bed”, pillow, and blanket [in an air-conditioned tent]? Luxurious. I’m not being sarcastic or funny… but honest. There were people outside with absolutely nothing, while we were in the AC with several coolers right at the doorstep of each door filled with ice cold drinks. Sodas, water, juices, you name it. Constant access to snacks, soup and tea. Buffet style meals. I kept my diet very simple from the start through the hajj days, but even so couldn’t help but be embarrassed.
Throughout our hajj days, I said it over and over again in person to fellow hajji’s and my family: we had a luxurious hajj. The modern luxuries and conveniences we had were embarrassing every time I stepped foot out of out Mena tents and observed others. Meanwhile inside, throughout our stay [whether it be in the hotels, in Aziziya, Mena, Arafat– I heard it everywhere] many from our program were busy complaining about the food — the kind of food, what they would rather be eating, etc. Oh brother…
THE biggest thing I was worried about was definitely the bathroom situation– the cleanliness factor and having to deal with eastern style bathrooms (google image at your convenience if you aren’t familiar) once we were out of the hotel. Alhumdulillah, neither was a issue. Dar el Salam had arranged for the bathrooms to be continuously be cleaned which was such a huge relief during our stay in Mena [and Arafat]. And, of course, I can’t even tell you how grateful/fortunate I was to have access to western style bathrooms.
Anyhow, this day, right before the Day of Arafat, would also be the day my uncle [part of the broader program] was taken to the hospital. He had a stroke days before leaving for hajj that impacted his eyes, and was now having angina pain as well. Alhumdulillah, he is doing okay.