We recently took a trip meeting Y’s parents at the Jeddah airport and taking a taxi together to Makkah. We arrived, walked into the tower where our hotel was, unsuccessfully attempted to check in and finally decided to complete our Umrah before the weather became too hot. Concierge took care of our bags and we walked to Masjid AlHaram. We forgot to bring a small plastic bag to store our shoes in, so we left them in the corner. They were just rubber flip-flops, which meant it wouldn’t be a huge problem if we didn’t find them there when we finished. We entered the Masjid and walked inside to the center, where the Kaaba stands.
We started the first ritual of Umrah. During Tawaf the Masjid was full of the sound of the call to Dhuhr (noon) prayer, so we paused to pray. I find this part of being in the Masjid to be the most amazing. You will stand waiting to begin the prayer and all of the empty spaces around you will fill up in a matter of moments, without any pushing or harsh words. I’ve never experiences any other kind of organization like it. After the prayer we finished Tawaf and we walked to the part of the masjid to perform Sa’i. When we finished we began to make our way out of the Masjid and back to the hotel.
Something really surprising about being in the masjid is that fact that you can walk barefoot on the sun beaten white ceramic without frying your feet. This was lucky for us as we didn’t find our shoes as we exited the Masjid. We just shrugged it off and continued walking. Just before the end of the white ceramic there was a woman selling rubber sandals. Y’s dad asked her how much and when she said “10 riyal”, Y came back with “How about 5?” She said “okay”, but Y shook his head in that we were almost back to the hotel lobby, so there was really no point.
In that moment we all stepped from the white ceramic tiles to the colored marble that lined the path to the hotels. My first step was uncomfortable. The second step burned. By the third step the bottom of my feet were on fire. Y’s dad immediately started sprinting to the door. Y’s mom hopped around for a minute in a hilarious sort of dance before following dad up to the door. I decided to follow when suddenly Y grabbed my arm and pulled me back to the soothing cool white tiles. I looked at him and started laughing. He had a smile on his face as well, especially when he mentioned his mom’s little dance. Y decided to do business with the flip-flops lady, who smiled and stated, “10 riyal”. Y chuckled, purchased 4 pairs and we walked up to the door where we found mom and dad sitting, also laughing about what had just happened.
I swear it was the sort of thing that you could just imagine happening in a cartoon. I love these kind of memories. It’s the kind of memory that I can think about a year later and still laugh.