Today marks Day 7 of Secretary Rice's latest diplomatic mission abroad. Her efforts in Europe and the Middle East are coming to a close for now, giving those that she met with time to consider what was discussed during her recent visits with various government leaders. As I pack my bags to begin the westward journey home, I’ve gathered a few funny stories to bring back to DC.
For starters, we’ve got some die hard Red Sox baseball fans in the traveling party. I won’t say who these people are, but one devotee’s name rhymes with “dawn”…which is the time of day that this person had to wake up in Moscow to see his beloved team play in the playoff series. Never before have I seen such a crowd of people—ladies and gents—so mesmerized by a live TV stream on a laptop in the middle of the night. Technology can be a beautiful thing sometimes.
Secondly, the Secretary’s squad of travelers is quite the athletic bunch. We start our days extremely early, but many of us are in the gym at the crack of dawn to squeeze in a workout. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that even those who I thought were the most stern and straight-and-narrow amongst us have unexpectedly modern taste in music. Never would I have thought that one of the Secretary’s advisers, a 3-star general, would listen to some of today’s most popular acts such as The Black Eyed Peas’ Fergie, Maroon 5, and Rihanna during his daily exercise regimen. Moral of the story: Never judge a general by his exterior.
Lastly, I must share with the blogosphere how fortunate the DC-based traveling team is to work with such capable Embassy and Consulate staff based in the regions to which we traveled this week—namely Moscow, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Cairo, and London. These extensions of the State Department know the lay of the land and have the expertise to organize a Secretarial visit in a matter of weeks (and in the case of this trip, sometimes days).
The Secretary has been in high spirits throughout this trip; walking the aisle of the plane a bit more frequently than I’ve seen in the past. It’s been a long, productive week. All the same, I think everyone is ready to get home.