The past 24 hours
Wasn’t planning on being offline so long, the first 4-5 hours were by choice, the rest was by circumstance.
And boy do I mean circumstance.
The thing about Hajj, I’m told, is that it’s full of last minute plans being made and cancelled. Somehow, everything seems to work out in the end.
Well, to make a long story short, I found myself sitting in a near-empty compound at 5am in the morning long after everyone else had taken off. No internet, no battery on my BB Torch, nothing. Tried hitching a ride, unsuccessfully, several times, before finally catching on with a couple of IT guys who work for Saudi Telecom (and luckily, speak English). They agreed to let me and a friend cram into their GMC Yukon and ride with them to Mecca.
Spent about an hour – carrying our backpacks, etc. – playing Dude Where’s My Car. Finally found it, then spent 2.5 hours making a roughly 6km drive. Got to the journalists compound, plunked down my things, and hurried down to the new Jamaraat bridge to connect with a Canadian caravan. The plan was to meet them and follow them to the slaughterhouse where they would be “Sacrificing” lambs as part of the Hajj.
Didn’t make it in time. Spent the day instead shooting photos, and taking a break after a few long nights.
I’ve got to say, the whole experience was quite exhilarating. There’s nothing better for a journalist that surveying the scene, figuring out all your plans didn’t work, and improvising another.
In the end, it all worked out. It always does.