Hajj Trip: October 17

Posted on a later day, 10.30.13, 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 downClick here to see the previous post and click here to see the next post.

Thursday October 17.

Yesterday [the 16th] and today have been relatively slow for me since Abu and I finished our tawaf al-ifadah and hajj sa’ee early Tuesday [the 15th]. I, along with Abu, were among one of the first to complete it from our program and group. Yesterday and  today, the only two things I HAD to do for hajj requirements was rami (stoning the jamarat/devil) while others were still completing their tawafs and sa’ee, etc at various times.

After literally eating barely anything but a pack of cookies and a (peel-yourself) banana daily, I ate a little shawarma meat Tuesday night. Because I figured the lack of food was what was making me feel so sick and crummy inside. Not to mention every part of me is sore. Of course, the meat gave me an upset stomach to add to everything else.

Wednesday, we went to the jamarat around 4:30 PM (Wednesday was the first of two days we had to do all three), and I was surprised how not-chaotic it was. Yes, the crowd was intense… but it was orderly from one to the next and finally last. Once again, my worries were put to ease. I can’t say alhumdulillah enough for how smoothly pretty much all of the hajj aspects have gone and my worries have been proven to be over nothing. It’s things I didn’t even think of beforehand that have become issues instead.

I talked in an earlier post about the luxuries we have even in our hajj, and here’s another insight: our walk from our Mena camp to the jamaraat is probably 10-15 minutes at the maximum. For others, it takes a few hours just to get there. Our program mangers and leaders continuously remind us to stay hydrated and keep water for the walk and keep an umbrella for the shade, etc. and that’s just for the fifteen minutes. I got myself dehydrated in the minimum time I spent outdoors during these days… imagine those that have to walk for several hours one way.

Our proximity to each location was unmatched. Not to mention that we had air-conditioned buses transporting us most places. Others probably walked from one hajj site to another. I know for a fact I saw many walking from Arafat to Muzdalifah, so I can imagine many doing it for other times as well. I have said it over and over again in person to fellow hajji’s and my family: we had a luxurious hajj through and through. Which is probably why we were tested in ways we couldn’t have imagined before. The modern luxuries and conveniences we had were embarrassing every time I step foot out of out Mena tents and observed others. Meanwhile inside, many from our program were busy complaining about the food — the kind of food, what they would rather be eating, etc. Oh brother…

I talked in an earlier post about barely being able to breathe outside [it was an issue for me throughout] because of the smog/dust/pollution. Yet, there were many people sitting outside our Mena camps in the heat eating, literally next to the garbage at times, and going on with their day with smiles on their faces. It didn’t bother them one bit. Or it was no different than any other day for them. The smell of the garbage, for me even with the mask, was unbearable and nauseating at the very least… and I had to experience it for just mere minutes [on the walk back from the jamarat to our Mena camps].

Another thing I have noticed here? Garbage everywhere. And I mean everywhere. There are visible and clearly marked garbage cans placed [not to mention there are cleaners everywhere walking around with garbage bags/cans], but for whatever reason they aren’t used… people just throw garbage on the ground as if it’s nothing. I just don’t get it. I can’t tell you the amount of times I saw people eat/drink and then just toss it right then and there.

Thursday [our last day in Mena], our whole camp was wide awake since three AM. For the time frame between praying fajr and until the time we left for the jamarat after zuhr: we just hung out in groups. It was the last time all of us would together in one area all at once. Alhumdulillah, we had some really great people in our group and I had a blast with them.

Thursday after rami, my dad and I got pretty much an unasked for walking tour of Mena because we got lost. Language barrier, I tell you is not fun. We asked for directions multiple times after we realized we were obviously not going the right way and were given wrong directions multiple times. Our landmark for getting back to our tent from day one was the infamous Al-Baik fried chicken chain… and of course there had to be two in the Mena region which didn’t do us any favors either when we were lost…

After rami was complete, on Thursday, we headed back to Aziziya for the transitional period before we go to our Makkah hotel [Fairmont Clock Tower Hotel] on Saturday for the remainder of the trip (until Friday). We left Mena for Aziziya via a bus around 3 PM, and didn’t arrive until after 5:30 because of traffic (it’s about a 5-15 minute drive otherwise). Of course, the bus dropped us off randomly in the middle of nowhere once again and we had to walk for 15-20 minutes with our luggage, in some uphill areas. Fun. You can imagine what that did to my asthmatic mom. Carrying an excessive amount of baggage for the duration of the walk did not go well for my weak self either [I took my mom’s bag as well]. I had a heavy backpack on my back, one on my chest, my cross-body purse, and I was also pulling a carry-on behind me. We didn’t even have the worst of it: my aunt’s bus, which left before us,  took almost 4 hours to reach Aziziya. They didn’t have very good luck with buses apparently either.

Again, have to take a moment here to thank another person: during the walk, once again, a random couple in our broader program took another bag my mom was carrying while carrying their own luggage and backpacks until we got to Aziziya. The kindness of strangers, alhumdulillah, is something I tell you.

I think I fell asleep around 9 pm this day and by that time, both my parents were asleep. Exhausted to say the least.

In more ways than one, I feel like we are being tested/challenged more so in aspects not directly related to hajj. While I agree some aspects are not under the control of our program leaders/organizers, some are. Like if they know buses are going to take so much time, why not pile the luggage in them and advise people [who are able] to do the mere 10-15 minute walk from Mena to Aziziya if you know that is easier? We ended up walking more after getting off the bus than people who chose to walk directly [because of the direction/route we took]. I distinctively remembering one of the group leaders saying after the fact that he knew these buses were going to get stuck just by the direction they were heading towards and so I didn’t let my group get on… well, why didn’t you say something to the everyone else?!

One week remains before we will be on our flight home, god willing.

Click here to read the next post, from October 19.

Posted on 10.30.13

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