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Hajj – 6th Dhul Hajj: Medinah to Makkah (for real this time!)

November 24, 2009

4:00 a.m., and I am up again. I think I might have slept for about 2 hours, wondering when we were going to get the call for our departure to Makkah. But no news… There were rumors now that we could be leaving at 9:00 a.m. Unfortunately as it could take half the day to get there, we lost this one day of prayers in Makkah…

I went to the Masjid al Nabawi to pray. I smiled a little when I realize my wish of being able to return here had been granted; I just didn’t think it would be so soon haha. The masjid was not very crowded now, presumably because of a significant portion of the Hajj groups having already left for Makkah.

Back at the hotel, ate breakfast, then back to the room to rest. The latest news was that we would leave at 9:30 a.m.

Well 9:30 rolls around, and there is no bus. The Group Leader said the Saudi Government was controlling accessibility to the buses due to traffic to Makkah. Again, nothing to do but wait here. I am still in my Ihram… I noticed it was getting a little loose around the waist. I remembered I put it on after dinner, when my stomach was full. Thank goodness for the belt!

We ended up spending most of the day waiting at the hotel lobby, and when prayer time rolled around and the bus had still not arrived, went to the Masjid, and again came back to the lobby to wait. People were getting very angry. Two of the four groups started organized a small protest, and brought all their luggage down to the lobby. I didn’t know what they were going to do. Possibly, force their luggage onto the first bus that comes, regardless of whose bus it is? I don’t now.

Luckily, I didn’t have to find out. The bus finally arrived, before Maghrib. We started getting onto the bus, but before everybody was there, we heard the athan for Maghrib, so we went to the Masjid to pray. As I walked, I noticed that the bottom of my big toe was getting a little sticky; I looked down, and there was blood on my sandals! I quickly went to the wudu area, cleaned, wudu’d, and prayed. I didn’t know whether blood would void the Ihram, so I tried to run back to the bus where the Imam was, but for some reason the Ihram got tighter around my waist so I ended up shuffling like a Geisha. He said it was ok, that blood wouldn’t void the Ihram. So I prayed the Niyya (intention) of the Ihram, and now was fully in the state of Ihram. I put on a bandaid that someone on the bus gave me.

6:45 p.m. Finally the bus is moving, and we are on the way to Makkah! About 21 hours behind schedule! I mostly slept on the bus, feeling relieved that we were actually proceeding to the next step of the Hajj.

11:45 p.m. The Imam woke us up at a stop where a small masjid was, to pray Isha. I went to the bathroom for wudu. The bathrooms… were… filthy beyond belief… They were Eastern style, with so much mud and water on the floor. I just hoped there was nothing more than mud… One had to take extra care not to let the Ihram touch the ground. Even in the wudu area, there was quite a bit of mud on the ground. I thankfully succeeded in keeping my Ihram clean, and prayed in the masjid, then waited back on the bus. At around 12:45 a.m., we left again, and I soon fell asleep.

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