Welcome to my page

Salaam and welcome. I made my pilgrimage in 2012. I wanted to share my experiences and advice - so that those going in future know what to expect, or those who just want to know how I got on!

This blog is a mix of advice and diary excerpts.

Sometimes I was so caught up in the experience I didn't write, other times I was compelled to write. Some pieces will have been written from memory.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

The journey to Makkah continued......

So I left off with us boarding the flight in Cairo.

Here follows my diary written as we touched down in Jeddah

Jeddah Airport, God knows what time! 20th October
What a journey!!!

We hit an air pocket and basically experienced the worst turbulence ever. At one point I was actually screaming out loud. Food and drink went everywhere. At Jeddah you can identify who was on our flight by the food stains.

We hit the air pocket not long after coffee was served. Poor Mr watched me gulp my tea down as if it was going out of fashion as he longed for a coffee. I never usually rush my tea but I think with it being cramped (this was NOT business class!) I felt it best to drink it up. Finally the coffee was offered and Mr sat back to enjoy then BAM!

It started as regular turbulence. I thought - ooh this is fun! Then suddenly the plane started shaking and we suddenly plummetted. It was such a drop that food, drink and God knows what else went flying. I started screaming, loads of people were shouting and then started saying their shahadah - and I did too....I thought if I am going to die then I am damn well declaring my faith!

After the plane settled down and we knew we weren't going to die the plane started chanting 'labbayk'. The passengers started to help the staff clean up - they looked embarrassed that we were helping them - bless. Some people had been injured. The lady in front of me had not been wearing her seat belt and hurt her hand being thrown from her seat. A man across the plane was drenched in hot tea and bleeding. He had to get an injection and the poor man giving him it was shaking so badly.

*As I write this two Indian guys sat opposite me in Jeddah Terminal are gawking at me. Wondering is writing so uncool?*

So that was my diary excerpt. I didn't mention that I was crying and shaking for half an hour afterwards.  I have never wanted to get off a plane so badly. I took a picture of the mess on the plane. I have to say when we disembarking I noticed the front of the plane was worse for the mess.

Mess created by the turbulence (personal pic)

My diary continues in Jeddah Airport:
Its evening and its absolutely boiling in Jeddah, 32 degrees......scary.
The hajj drafts are apparently almost sorted and this time I don't mind hanging around an airport too much!
The plan is to get to the hotel, and I will try to sneak a shower in and then perform our 'Umrah'.
The elderly lady in our group wants to go tomorrow - but I think its best if we do it tonight and then get a few days rest. I am looking forward to seeing the Kaba, it will make this crazy journey seem worthwhile.
Jeddah Airport; very early hours of 21st October
Still here! Turns out the hajj draft is a lot of work and waiting around. So we begin day 4 in yet another aiport.
I got a bit frustrated and then decided to go shopping! LOL. (Note there are loads of shops in Jeddah Airport). I bought a sparkly khimar and a lace under bonnnet. Also bought a towel and a bar of soap. I braved the public showers as I didn't wash in Cairo and was stinking.
So after that I didn't write any more. But lets fill you in. We basically ended up waiting from evening until about 2am to get our hajj drafts and get on a coach. At one point this Saudi was screaming at me to gather the group up as our coach was there......thus ensued a mad panic. I had literally turned my back on Mr for 2 minutes to chat to a revert sister I spotted and he disappeared. Several of our group started rushing around trying to find Mr and his friend. I was raging.....lol. I am so used to pulling my phone out and calling him but we didn't purchase Saudi SIM cards or intend to (I was going to regret this).  One man in our group just looked so dazed and lost he was at one end of the terminal spinning round and round. I kid you not. One guy asked me where he was and I was so annoyed I snapped - 'there he is spinning round in a daze'. Then burst out laughing because it was actually hysterical.
I finally located Mr buying pizza. Felt a bit sorry for him as I yelled at him in the restaurant that 'we needed pizza like a hole in the head and that a coach was waiting'.
Well - turns out the Saudi guy had thought we were with another group. Wasn't our coach and apparently our luggage had been taken away somewhere. So they sat and ate pizza, located the luggage, and then located our coach.
Finally we boarded the coach. It was cramped....and I mean cramped. But I got my travel pillow out and determinedly slept - I wanted to sleep this journey away. So we boarded roughly at 2am.  I woke what felt like hours later - to see we were still sat in Jeddah Terminal....I was horrified. It was at least 3 hours later and fajr time. One passenger decided we were not moving until he prayed fajr.
Finally we got going. I went back to sleep - albeit it with my legs kicking every 2 seconds due to them being cramped up.
So - 6 hours after being on this bus we broke down. I am not joking. By the way I later learned Jeddah is an hours drive from Makkah - an HOUR!!!!   I decided to get off the bus and stretch my legs and have a pee. There was no toilet on the bus.  Most of the men ran and off they went peeing merrily away. But where to go. It was the road side and what bushes were around were no cover for a lady needing to pee.  I begged Mr to remove his top sheet off and hang it round me but he refused (meany) and I had to deal with the fact that anyone could see me pee. Knowing there was no toilet I felt it best to go. But I was terrified that I would be arrested for indecency!
We got back on the bus and some guy came along to fix the bus. We were thrilled to get going and off we drove only to stop 10 minutes later. We had to change bus, and be given our free food from the Saudi government.  This sounds easy but the luggage is tied to the roof. So even though we piled onto the next bus which was a wreck - we then had to wait for the luggage to be untied and transferred. Finally we got going. And here it gets fun. As the bus was Saudi ran - we had several tour groups on.  This meant going to several mutawif offices. Every hajji has to relinquish their passport to the government and this is done by their registered mutawiff. This took ages, and guess who's office was last? Oh yes.....thats right....mine. Not only were we going to offices we had to drop people at hotels.  There was us left on the coach (our merry band) and a British Pakistani family.  The coach driver slung them off and refused to take them to their hotel. The young guy was furious and couldn't understand why we were not being thrown off, alas he didn't realise several of our group spoke Arabic and had bribed the driver to take us (which was wrong as apparently the Saudi government transport was meant to take us to our hotel end of).
So we finally reached our mutawiff office. After aggggges the man looking after the passports came out and chucked us off the coach. The driver refused the bribe and had had enough, well it had been nearly 12 hours at this point. I was shocked. I felt by this time we were NEVER going to reach the hotel. I had been holding it together on the coach, teased by glimpses of 'Big Bilal' and trying to keep my cool. Thankfully within 2 seconds a taxi pulled up and seeing us stranded decided to get us to the hotel. We had to hire a pickup truck to carry the rest of the group and the luggage. That also stopped another 2 seconds after the taxi. 
So sat in the taxi I thought right we are on our way - this is it! Hell no. The taxi driver got lost. Yes.....lost. I cried at this point. It was like a neverending nightmare only in real life.
Turns out our hotel was in Aziziyah (will make a post about hotels and locations) and not only was it in Azizyah it was on the very edge of Azizyah. This is why the coach didn't want to go there.....it was in a terrible location. It was in the 'south London' of Makkah.
We finally finally finally arrived. As soon as I jumped out of the cab I saw my friend Umm Yacine and literally burst into tears.


1 comment:

  1. Subhanallah! I feel exhausted just reading this. Can't wait for more!