Thursday, October 19, 2006
On the road with Secretary Rice
When I embarked on my first trip Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, I didn't realize I signed up for no sleep and no food.

Rice keeps an extremely hectic schedule: in and out of meetings, holding press conferences, making phone calls from the plane. She's come to speak to the media traveling with her once so far, and on the record.

We all travel at the back of the plane. We all drew numbers, democratically, to decide who sits where on the plane. I was last to pick a number and ended up in one of the few business class seats we have. I thought that was a good sign ...

The press sticks to its own section and doesn't wander into the cabin filled with State Department officials accompanying the Secretary on her trip. There are two bathrooms that mark an invisible line you can't cross.

I've never taken a sleeping pill before, but I was assured by the press traveling with me -- all very warm and extremely helpful -- that I needed to take Ambien and sleep. The drastic change in time zones, they said, would really mess me up if I didn't. So I risked it, popped a pill, and voila. I was out most of the flight to Tokyo, and woke up feeling pretty fresh.

When we arrive anywhere, we don't need to go through customs. I don't even have my passport. The State Department is handling all that (and all of our luggage). We go to-and-from the airport, to hotel press filing centers, and to press conferences.

I am often on the phone doing interviews, or at a CNN bureau writing scripts or doing live shots. They give us a schedule for the next day and we need to be down and ready to board our bus to the next stop. It's been a wonderful experience so far.
Posted By Zain Verjee, CNN Correspondent: 10/19/2006 12:34:00 PM ET | Permalink
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