Archive for November, 2008


Hajj: Leaving in a few hours

There is so much I want to say.
There is so much going through my mind right now.

Five years ago when my elder sister made hajj, I was impressed. I never thought I would be ready.

Four years ago when they talked of us making hajj soon…I mentally scoffed (I didn’t think I was ready, neither did I think I was able).

Three years ago when we were planning to make hajj (when Chennette got ill), I didn’t think it would actually happen.

Two years ago, it still wasn’t concrete in my head and we only cancelled some time in October after Chennette’s convalescence.

One year ago…well we intended to make hajj but…we knew about these babies beforehand. You know, they give you about 8 or 9 months notice so we knew although we planned and my brother’s parents-in-law planned to go that we wouldn’t. That would be fun. We all make hajj while our family in Saudi Arabia come back here to empty houses. And my sister in Guyana.

This year, it was still rather…unbelievable but when I left my job last July, I made sure of one thing, that I had my hajj money set aside…waiting…for whenever it would be…waiting…

Well, Insha Allah we are leaving home in three hours to catch a flight in seven hours. We have three flights. We finally have our passports with visas and hopefully everything will go smoothly for us.

I am very excited.

We have Chennette’s sony camera phone, mom and I have motorolas with funky so-so cameras for “snaps” and … elder sister’s point and shoot camera! with only 1GB of storage…so we shall judiciously take pictures because we have no computer!

Don’t expect to see us online…maybe we’ll be able to say hi but who knows…internet cafes? My brother’s phone line is down so no internet…unless he gets it fixed.

We’ll be gone until the end of December…so a whole month!

I’m going to keep a written journal and try to transcribe it when I come home. Wish me luck.

The only sour note is that half our group left Tuesday morning for Caracas on the same flight plan as us and are still in Caracas. The visas were only issued Friday for all of us. And they’re hopefully flying out of Caracas on the same flight as us (hopefully I say because there seems to be penalties for flight changes and I am praying hard we all make it)! We will share our food/snacks/money with them and Insha Allah both halves will make it to Jeddah Hajj terminal on time and able to complete the rites of Hajj this year!

I wish us all who are making Hajj a Hajj Mabrur (I hope I got that right…it means simplistically an accepted Hajj).

I’ll miss you and if your comments go into moderation, I’ll check them when I come back. If you’re not spambots and it goes into the black hole I apologise.

Also published here, my blog!

See Chennette’s post on her blog!


I don’t want to know my blood pressure at the moment


More trials with regards to the visa.
Well latest word is that we got it and hopefully the group sojourning in Caracas will leave today (in two hours).

You should understand in the past couple days we’ve heard, they’re leaving Caracas tomorrow. Oops they didn’t get the visas. Oh they got the visas but not in time to catch their flight so tomorrow. But their luggage has left already. No, nobody got visas. Yes they got it finally we all got it.

So, we’re praying a lot and am waiting to have my passport with visa in my hand.

Insha Allah it will work out.

Mom says in the days of the prophet there was no air-conditioned hajj and buses and marble floors to make tawaf. We have to make our jihad somewhere if not in the actual hajj, in the travel to get there.


No Passports yet

Contrary to my last post, we didn’t get our passports at the hajj meeting today.

I wonder how the Saudi embassies operate in other regions.

Anywayz, not too many details right now, but it seemed there was a problem with the machine printing the passports and they all weren’t done. They should be done by tomorrow which means the group leaving on Tuesday won’t get them before they leave Trinidad on their way to Caracas. Their passports will be waiting in Caracas. I think our group leader has made arrangments so that they are able to travel without their passports to Caracas. Insha Allah that will work out.

Then the other helper (in Caracas waiting for our passports) will bring the rest and Insha Allah we will leave without a hitch on Sunday.

Insha Allah.

But what else did we get?
Our itinerary and ticket printout for the POS-CCS and CCS-POS legs (the Saudi-bound legs are with our passports).
We got two little name tags for hand luggage and two bigger tags for checked luggage.
We got ID cards to enter the tents during the days of hajj.
And the women got their scarves to wear over their hijab/clothes so that we can be easily recognized.

And the nice jamaah with an impressive dome (masjid in construction) treated us to lunch (I didn’t take pictures although I did take the camera…I was hungry: fry rice, stew chicken, green salad, veggies: pepper).

So let’s all pray that the first group goes off okay and so do we.

Word is that a group carded to leave today didn’t because of badly printed visas.


Hajj Visas and Passports

Every year, every group worries about getting their visas.

We’ve heard some groups didn’t get their passports back until the day of travel…in years past, visas actually stamped at the airport.

Once upon a time the embassy used to come through the region, or at least some of the Caribbean islands and set up posts and issue Hajj visas from there. Now everybody (or at least the group leader) has to go to the Caracas embassy.

And rules for giving out visas are even stricter. So many people want to go they have quotas. And they don’t let you go if you’ve gone within the last five years…(well obviously if you’re not one of the group leaders). And then, you never know, it’s up to their whim, you could just be denied!

Can you imagine the stress? After you’ve paid your money and all that and then to find out no visa. Boohoo.

Well, news just in…our hajj leader is coming back from Caracas tomorrow…and…I think everybody got their visas! Woohooo! Alhamdullillah.

One less worry (especially as we heard that a group that left yesterday Trinidad – Tobago – London – Amman/Jeddah didn’t leave Tobago; their London-bound flight had difficulties and thus…they overnighted there. Oh my!)

What that really tells you is as bad as it sounds that we’re going through Caracas, you never know. We can plan to the hilt but there are lots of things we have no control over. An airline could go kaput and we get stranded somewhere. So intentions are important. And mom’s oft repeated mantra, “Man plans but Allah is the best of planners”.

At least…we got our visas 🙂


Traveling For Hajj

Hajj PouchLilandra has just posted about the packing frenzy we’re currently experiencing. I know, I’m not actually there in Trinidad, amid the suitcases, but I did take my suitcase over last weekend. And I went shopping for toiletries, clothing and shoes for the month long journey, in unfamiliar climate, lots of walking and insha Allah, many more blessings.

I was actually supposed to post a month ago, almost exactly, as we went to a major Hajj meeting on October 12, where alhamdulillah I was actually in Trinidad. I was able to collect my Hajj travel pouch, get my itinerary, take my visa photo etc. I won’t come right out and say the Hajj pouch was the most exciting thing, but it was pretty cool 🙂 We’re like that.

As you can see, we leave on the 30th of November. That’s not that far away!

Apart from the packing, and strategising about washing clothes, and schedules and ensuring we do our best to get to keep in the peak of health, we also have some mental preparation. We’ve had some family Skype Hajj sessions – going through the steps of the Hajj, reviewing the arabic for the talbiyah, the du’a, the quranic ayaat that we will have to recite during the Hajj. I also managed a session en famille in person. LIlandra and Mom enlarged the pocket Hajj guide and home laminated it (with that plastic sticky covering used for books) punched holes and tied it together with yarn. So we have waterproof, easy-to-read and carry, Hajj guides, complete with all the steps and the things to recite.

If Lilandra ever posts the complete list of things we’re taking people might think we’re hypochondriacs. But, it’s 4 of us, each with our own idiosyncrasies and allergies (or intolerances). Plus the parents have done this before, have a fair idea of the things they’ll need, and taking into consideration the fact that they’re older. Also, we’ve traveled a lot in our life, and know our particular needs when undertaking long travel – for example, my sinus allergies after hours in planes, not to mention unfamiliar desert air and dust…better be safe and sorry, as we would like very much insha Allah that this is the best Hajj we can do.


The actual Packing list (so-far)

Based on the list provided by some friends, this is what we’ve got so far:

Cosmetics for days of actual hajj/pilgrimage

  • 4 travel sized toothpastes with mild scent
  • 4 travel sized bottles of vaseline petroleum jelly (for our lips!)
  • 1 large bottle of vaseline petroleum jelly (dad will be in special clothes and it might chafe 😉 so he’ll refill his from this
  • 2 travel sized eucerin, fragrance-free creams (they say lots of cream! going to be very cold…ha! but we shall see…deserts can cool down a lot in the night…but about 2 million people?)
  • 1 big bottle of fragrance-free cream, will fill two other travel sized containers with it
  • huggies baby wipes, fragrance free, alcohol free (we had left over and it made sense)
  • T/sal unscented, alcohol free shampoo
  • coppertone travel sized sunscreen, unscented
  • huggies sunscreen unscented
  • box of dust masks
  • tonnes of simple soap, unscented
  • simple soap face wash
  • 6 avon unscented deodorant
  • 1 mitchum unscented dedorant
  • bandages…hehe
  • 2 visine eye drops
  • unscented powder

medicinal stuff:

  • 1 lg vicks and 2 flat tin, t/s vicks
  • 4 little bottles of olbas oil
  • 2 bottles of alcolado/rubbing alcohol
  • vitamin C, lots of it for all of us
  • 2 bottles of tylenol rapid release
  • 1 bottle tylenol arthritis
  • 1 bottle panadol
  • 1 bottle advil
  • 1 box allegra D
  • 2 bottles and 1 t/s muscle rub
  • lots of stuff for sore throats: vicks chlorospetic (2 boxes), strepsils (4 boxes), olbas pastilles (2 boxes), vicks cough drops (3 boxes) and some other lozenge mom got that i don’t know
  • 30 gravol and 30 of non-drowsy alternative
  • 2 desitin (one is for niece)
  • cough syrup: buckley’s, robitussin, african sea coconut
  • bisolvon tablets
  • lots of our vitamins
  • lots of acid stuff
  • immodium, lomotil and something else
  • 10 boxes (ok 4 is to carry for bro and SIL) of panadol multisymptom, half non-drowsy
  • 2 boxes tylenol sinus
  • lots of antibiotics
  • ankle, wrist, back, neck wraps/braces
  • baby aspirin
  • something for if we get allergies
  • stronger pain killers
  • and our regular prescription medication

Other things:

  • shampoo: 1 bottle i like and 1 my sister likes…
  • other cream with fragrance
  • pads etc
  • flushable wipes etc
  • 4 tubes of toothpaste…we all seem to have preferences…
  • some laundry detergent for hand washing
  • t/s shampoo…we’re overnighting in caracas on our way back

Packing Frenzy

We’ve been in the midst of a pre-packing frenzy, at least mom and I.
We got a list from friends of ours who went last year of all the “essentials” one needs.
Of course we had to customize it with our medicines and preferences but…for starters, here is that list:

1. Panadol cold; Panadol pain & fever (alot)
2. Cough Syrup: Buckleys, Bisolvon, Histatussin
3. Strepsil/Difflam/Vicks chloroseptic (a lot)
4. Mints and saltprunes (not available in Saudi so take a lot)
5. Tums/MMT
6. lomotil
7. muscle rub/ sports balm,
 8. *_KWAN LOONG_ (Chinese oil) *and/or* *vicks
9. ankle wrap/ brace (for sprains etc)
10. antibiotics
11. hand and face cream – (it is very cold in Medina)
12. lip balm or vasaline – (your lips may crack and bleed)
13. gravol
14. Vitamin C – (start taking long before trip)
15. sugarless gum for flying
16. sinutab/ clarinase – (for flying)
17. medicine for constipation
18. dust masks

Toiletries and Food
1. unscented deodorant,
2. toothpaste and toothbrush
3. simple soap – this is unscented as well – check pennywise
4. vasaline – unscented (men will need this while in ihram)
5. small bottle shampoo and conditioner (2in1)
6. unscented sanitary napkins
7. flushable wipes – check superpharm
8. crix (small packs) and a few tins of tuna (tomato and basil etc) – optional
9. granola or other snacks
10. travel sized lysol (surface) sanitisers, j-cloths, gloves, dust masks, air fresheners, etc.

Someone thought that was a lot and do we really need all that?
Well, they haven’t seen what we’ve bought and packed.
And remember we’re packing for four people and some of them quite sickly! 😉

I’m not sure where our clothes will go.

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