December 7, 2008
Posted: 1705 GMT
–By CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq
We left the hotel in Mecca to film what we call a “walk and talk”. We decided to leave in the afternoon in order not to be stuck among millions of pilgrims especially during the call to prayer
CNN’s reporter Arwa Damon , CNN’s Cameraman Chevan Rayson and I – along with our Saudi minder - walked among hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from across the world to perform the Hajj.
We were only few hundreds meters away from the Kaaba, the first and holiest site for Muslims. We met many pilgrims during our tour who were so excited and happy to be here …many of whom wanted to be on camera to show to their relatives and friends that they are here performing Hajj.
In Mecca its easy for us to find any nationality for an interview but it is impossible to find someone from a different religion.
It is incredible feeling to see millions of people who are walking next to each other in a small area for one purpose only, which is performing the Hajj.
We walked past the holy mosque to an outdoor market filled with thousands of pilgrims and every store was packed with shoppers. It is really difficult to move through them. Sometimes we decide to stop filming because hundreds of pilgrims gather around us that make our work impossible. Other times we have to stop filming because religious police as us to move on to avoid a crowd gathering.
After we got what we needed for our story we decided to go back to the hotel but this time we were running literally – to make it back before the call to prayer. Otherwise we could we could be stuck for at least an hour in the middle of millions of pilgrims ….we made it this time .
Around 7 p.m. we decided to grab dinner outside but we totally forgot about the night prayers. We were so hungry after a long day of working. We bought some food and we decided to go back to hotel to finish the “walk and talk story”.
We were only a few meters away from the hotel and technically only a few minutes from our rooms. But suddenly the Muezzin called for the night prayers: in only few seconds, hundreds of pilgrims stopped to pray and we were stuck.
We waited in a small corner until the worshippers finished their prayers. We sat on the ground eating some of the food we'd bought earlier, exchanging amused looks and smiling at our predicament.
Filed under: Hajj
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