“Home. Feels as foreign as Jeddah did 3 weeks ago.”
Our journey, it seems, is never complete without some wholesome, hearty tests of patience. It’s 3:30 am. Our flight back to DC is at 8:25 am, in Jeddah, which is an hour and a half from Mecca. We’re still in Aziziah. We’ve been waiting for hours on the front stoop of our building, with no sign of our bus to take us to the airport. This whole day has been one long waiting game. The anticipation has been killer. The patience here is almost entirely run out, I feel like people in our group are on the verge of snapping. Some people – men and women – have actually broken down into tears out of anxiety about potentially missing their flights. I’m totally calm myself, accepting of the real fact that we may very well miss our flight. Our trip organizer is basically BSing us, saying the bus is coming. But, we’ve been hearing this for over 2 hours. I’ve winded down over the past 2 days. I’m ready to go, but there’s just nothing to do but let the mind wander. This is a test though, like all the others we overcame these past 3 weeks. Who knows what we’re meant to do? I’m going to continue sitting here and waiting patiently for My Host to reveal His Plan to return us home. Or, if we are meant to stay, we must accept our fate. Allah is the best of planners. La ilaaha illa hu.
We waited from 1 am until 4 am, when our bus finally showed up. We actually stopped a large cargo truck that was passing by before our bus came, and decided to start packing the whole group’s luggage into it to save time in loading our bus, in anticipation of there not being enough space on our bus to hold all of our bags. The wait for the bus and the drive to the airport were both very nerve-wracking. Alot of people just couldn’t take it, the fear of missing the flight was too much. We’ve always been told to arrive at the airport here at least 12 hours early, to even have a chance of getting through to flights on time. Our bus arrived at the airport in Jeddah at 6 am. Our flight was scheduled for 8:25 am. SubhanAllah, by 6:40, we were all done checking in and just went straight onto the plane. We got there and the clerks were like hey! we’ve been expecting you guys. It was so smooth it’s not even funny. Allah is indeed the best of planners, that’s real. We had one final scare when even this bus driver didn’t know how to get to the airport. I mean, really? How all yall drive buses and don’t even know how to get to the major airport? That was it for some people. Luckily, the truck driver we hired to carry our luggage had our group leader with him, so he called us to guide our lost driver. Did I mention I unloaded this truck full of luggage single-handedly? 36 people, close to 70 pieces of luggage, all by myself ,with not so much as a thank you or look of acknowledgement. Alrighty then. That’s not why I did it, but just surprised at how quickly we forget patience and how seriously committed we are to self-service. I’m no exception. Truly blessed is he who, on that Day, will call out for his Ummah, while all will cry out only for themselves. May Allah guide us and bless us to be amongst those closest to Al Mustafa.
I’m on the plane now. I just set my watch to D.C. time :), we have about 10 hours left. I just watched Rise of the Planet of the Apes – pretty dope, 4 stars. Gonna keep watching these flicks till we show up, just killing time now. Alhamdulillah fil kulli hal. Allahu Akbar!
2 hours left til landing. Everything’s nice and smooth Alhamdulillah. Also watched Super 8 – 3.5 stars, and Henry’s Crime – 4 stars. Started watching Green Lantern, but it sucked so I stopped after half an hour. I wanna also watch The Help, Wrecked, Smurfs, The Beaver, and Source Code. Thank God for in-flight entertainment.
Home. Feels as foreign as Jeddah did 3 weeks ago. Within 5 minutes, I knew I was back though. We arrived at 1:20 pm. We got through immigration by 2:10 pm and were outside with our bags by 2:40 pm, Alhamdulillah. We waited in line for a while at Customs. Hold up. Let me say that again. We waited. In Line…like…civilized Human beings. It was so simple, but so relieving. I kept fighting the urge to push through and shove my way to the front. It had become second-nature over the past 3 weeks to behave this way, just as a matter of survival. Ironically, many of the people that you would tussle with in crowds to get somewhere were standing calmly and peacefully in the same line as you. Suddenly, we all have etiquette again. Way to go, America.
I was also thrilled to see Latinos! I haven’t seen a Latino in 3 weeks! White people too. You don’t understand how good it felt to be around some European diversity again. Sure, they stare at you funny, something I also miss ;), but at least they behave! mA.
The sight of that flag too, Allahu Akbar. Never have I really felt a sincere appreciation like this for this country. We truly are blessed to live here. Allah blessed mankind with something uniquely magnificent with this nation. What a great opportunity, what a blessing to be here. I was happy to see officials that speak English too! Shooo, question me all you want, I’m home papa, that’s all that matters. Alhamdulillah, no problems though, got right through.
My uncle and aunt picked us up, we’re riding back now from Dulles Airport, almost home. It’s about 20 more mins. My parents are going on about all the problems they faced – complaining so much. I’m like yo – can we mention some good things too. Khair, iA. Hajji’s don’t always realize the affect their stories have on others, and the appalling things tend to stick out more.
If you ever go for Hajj, try to share the good experiences you had too. The next stage is adjusting, conveying those messages and stories – finding focus in life, learning from the experiences, and sharing them with others. Alhamdulillah wa Shukr. Ya Rabb, please continue to help me through and to keep focus. Thank you for bringing us back safely. Now begins the real journey.