As I mentioned yesterday, every second person in Makkah has a cold and is coughing and spluttering and I'm agreeably surprised to have remained reasonably healthy so far. Of our own little group I think I'm the only one who hasn't yet been ill. Noi has had a bad cough and sore throat for several days now. In fact, we went to see the doctor in the medical centre adjacent to the hotel. We get free health care as pilgrims under some kind of agreement with the Saudi authorities and took advantage of it by getting hold of several kinds of medicine. Unfortunately these have not done her that much good. Since antibiotics weren't prescribed she decided to get these herself from a nearby pharmacy. According to the instructions (in French) on the box these should only be prescribed by a doctor - understandably. It seems the usual sensible rules don't necessarily apply here.
Anyway, despite the aches of pains of my companions we've been getting on with doing a series of umrahs, completing our second one since we came to stay next to the big masjid today. I didn't realise just how physically taxing they can be until we did one in the heat on Monday morning - and I'm talking 42 degrees centigrade here. It pretty much knocked me out for the afternoon. It also made me further appreciate the simple guts and staying power exhibited by so many of the older or more frail pilgrims. This is definitely not an experience for the wimps.