Mina is not that far, actually it took us under 10 minutes to get to Mina the problem was to find the European camp and not only that but to find exactly where it is where staying within the European camp, Mina is gigantic, and i totally understand now when people say that they got lost for days not just hours.
alhamdullilah our driver didnt get to confused, it took us say all in all 25 minutes which is very good mashallah, later when i met with my cousin from Libya, she informed us that it took them 16 hours to find there place in Mina, the driver just kept driving around and around and was totally lost himslef, could you imagine 16 HOURS !!!!!!!
we where given red wrist bands to wear, it was to indicate we where from the European camp and it was incase we got lost or what not, Libya where wearing white bands, pakistan, india etc where wearing yellow. our camp included Britain, Europe, Australia, Canada and America, it was basiclly the 'western' camp.
when we got to our camp, we where pointed towards our tent, we walked in and found woman already spread out in sleeping bags sleeping they where from switerzerland, but the problem was we where 16 ladies and they where more than 20, the tent was big enough mashallah but they needed to take less space so that we could all cozily fit. unfortuantly we didnt start on the right foot with each other, bless them they where asleep and we walked in on them and made some noise, and when one of our ladies tried to make some space by moving one of the suitcases, the woman got really angry and told her off for touching her suitcase, its understandable that some people can get really cranky when woken up all of a sudden but its out of our hands and most people where on high alert because a condition of ihram is not to argue or fight, so our patience can get really tested at times.
just as the swiss sisters started to wake up, the tent flap opens up and 3 older ladies walk in, from the look of them they where fresh libyans, they walked in with there luggage and sat down. every one just stood and looked at them because they where so unexpected bless them, the tent was to be occupied by britain and switzerland, so these 3 wonderful ladies where not according to plan, and it was so cool they had brought with them zimeeta, gideed etc.. (libyan food stuff)
my mum loves old libyan woman so she zoomed in on them and started a converstaion, it turned out that they where indeed libyans from Libya but who had come to hajj via switzerland for some reason, so they where put in the european camp. they where so cute bless them and they where so happy to be doing hajj that they really didnt care where they where put, one of them even said that she would sleep in the corridor if she had to and it will be an honour for her, see thats what im talking about, putting our differences aside and working together and being happy for the simple fact that allah enabled us to even be in this blessed place, not fighting and bickering over where to put your suitcase!!!
people where not being very co-operative so in the end the men gave us a bigger tent, it was announced to every one that they should move there stuff to a tent down the corridor but the swiss sisters at first said that they wherent moving, so we took our stuff and transported ourselves, the libyan old women where told to stay where they where, so sadly they didnt come with us although we met again in arafat which was nice.
the tent given to us was alot bigger alhamdullilah, and we managed to secure good spots, 10 minutes later the swiss sisters walked in with there luggage and they also managed to get good spots so overall everyone was happy, it wasnt an issue with me like i said i was ecstatic to even be there so anywhere was fine by me. we decided we might as well stay up for fajer seeing how it was only an hour away, so people prayed tahajud and after fajer a sense of calm took over every one, i crawled into my sleeping bag and zonked out.
i woke up about 2 hours later to noise, when i opened my eyes the tent looked totally different, while i was sleeping the quantity of people in the tent had more than doubled, no joke!!! i looked at my mum and said 'mama where did these people come from?' to which she replied 'shhhhhhhhh, ahlan wasahlan bil kul translation - everyone is welcome 'but i didnt mean it in a bad way i just meant it in a mashallah type of way looooooool.
while we where sleeping, more sisters had come from ireland and germany, and seriously before i had even turned around more sisters walked in, thats when i turned to my mum and said ' mama, i bet you its going to be a case of 3 woman in one sleeping bag' and burst into laughter, to which my mum said 'intee usktee, minghayer fadaye7, translation- you better be quite, stop emberassing me', to which i laughed some more, my mums freind backed me up though and said 'walahi bintik 3indhal 7ag translation - walahi your daughter has a point', by the end of the day my mum came up to me and said 'i think what you said this morning might actually come true' no problem, converting to a twix or kit kat during mina is fine inshallah was my reply.
seriously guys mashallah by the end of that evening we where full to the rim, more sisters had come from switzerland and some where so annoyed that they refused to walk into the tent and held a protest outside the tent, they at first went in search of other tents that had less people and more space, they eventually found one but unbeliavably they where kicked out from it and when they told them of their situation the woman in the tent replyied 'either you remove yourself from this tent or i hit you with my shoes' astaghfurallah.
so they came back to ours and held a protest, wanting the leaders to arrange bigger accomodation for them, but sadly they where ignored and by late evening they came in and managed to find some spot to sleep on. with all that was happening it was still lovley and there was a nice feeling, and us brits just tried to look at the bright side of things.
it really is a test of patience and you have to make sacrifices on your part, its all part of gaining the reward from Allah inshallah.
after asr i went out to take pictures and investigate mina, i found it to be a totally different world, absouloutly amazing....
to the left is the scene outside our tent, rows and rows of tents basiclly and to the right is a part of our section with the mountain in the background pretty cool.
mina only gets used once a year, the remainder of the time its like a ghost town, otherwise its mega packed full of people, apparently the numbers this year was 5 million pilgrims although t.v and 'offical statistics' are saying 3 and half million.
i walked out of our section to scenes of more white, and coaches dropping more hajjis off, here where are bunch of them walking towards there camp, every one is on high, really excited looking forward to arafat tomorrow and generally preparing themselves.
amazingly some people are not even sleeping in tents, they spread carboard out and sleep out in the open, you either catch them resting during teh day time or if you walk out at night the whole road will be full of sleepers, and it can get really cold at night as well, hope no one got to ill.el all happy and warm inside when you see it.
you will see groups of kids or men walking around with trolleys selling rice and curry just like this little kid, and it is fresh, i didnt hear of anyone coming down with anything alhamdullilah.
also you can easily buy fruit and vegtable too, one guy even selling mangos.
eventually we got to the border of mina, or at least one of the many borders, walking around you see so many sights and to walk amongst millions of people from all corner sof the world is truly and heart warming aspect of mina.