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Reporters on the Job

A WORLD APART: Save for the desert around them, US airmen stationed at Prince Sultan Air Base (page 7) would hardly know they were in Saudi Arabia, says reporter Catherine Taylor. Because of security concerns, the soldiers are generally restricted to the base during their three-month tours. "Most of the airmen I met had spent far longer in Saudi Arabia than I had, and yet had never left the base," says Catherine, who became something of a window on the outside world to the servicemen. "They were fascinated to learn about the cities and the Saudi people," she says. "And they seemed surprised to learn that most Saudi families are struggling with the same fears about the post-9/11 world as American families back home."

NO ESCAPE: After almost 10 days of intense reporting on the political crisis in Venezuela (page 7), reporter Kris Axtman was looking forward to a day of peaceful solitude. "I had planned to spend all day hiking in the mountains that surround Caracas - with no one shouting at me or trying to convince me of their position," says Kris. She planned to trek in the Avila National Park, which overlooks the city on one side and the ocean on the other side. "I had just started my climb, when I needed to ask directions," she says. Big mistake. "That person then began asking me questions, and found out that I was a reporter. Suddenly, I was in the middle of a passionate political discussion. There went the serene interlude I was hoping for! Finally, I stepped up my pace a notch and left him in the dust."

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Margaret Henry
Europe editor

Cultural snapshot