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Published:August 6th, 2006 08:45 EST
Terminal 2 - When life writes better screenplays than Hollywood.

Terminal 2 - When life writes better screenplays than Hollywood.

By Krzys Wasilewski

Do you remember Steven Spielberg's “The Terminal”? To cut a long story short, a tourist from Eastern Europe arrives in the USA to complete his late father's collection of jazz musician’s autographs. With a 24h visa in his passport and few dollars in his wallet he sets up for what is going to be the greatest adventure of his life. The moment he puts his feet on American soil, however, a war breaks out in Europe and his native country ceases to exist. Therefore, the visa is canceled and he finds himself prisoner at the air terminal, unable to go back to his homeland or even leave the airport. “America is closed,” he is told. But Steven Spielberg wouldn't be the most loved director if the movie didn't end up with “and they lived happily ever after” and Tom Hanks the most kind-hearted actor if his character didn't gain everyone's affection and love. But even such a genius as Spielberg wouldn't imagine that this story could happen for real.

A flight from Ecuador to Spain lasts about 14 hours. From Spain to Poland it is four hours more. A long distance even for someone who spends on airplanes most of his life. For someone who has never left her home village, let alone country or continent, 14 hours in the sky must look like an endless torment. Ms Morales took the risk. Her grandfather had invited her to Madrid, the Spanish capital, found her a good job and flat. Ms Morales did not hesitate since in her native Ecuador she would have to sweat for the whole month to fetch in as much as she would earn in Spain in one week. She obtained a passport, bought a ticket to Madrid and left her village, for ever as she thought at that time.

After 14 long hours she landed in Barcelona and had just enough time to catch a breath before the final flight to Madrid. When her time came, she went to a terminal, showed her ticket and get on a plane, the most shining and monstrous machine she has ever seen. She couldn't help smiling – in an hour she would be with her grandfather, the first close person she to see in more than a day. Not being a big fan of flying and feeling exhaustion filling her entire body, Ms Morales took a short snap. When she woke up, she habitually looked at the watch: two hours had passed and she wasn't in Madrid yet. Something must have been wrong. The stewardesses did not speak Spanish; neither did the passengers so she just patiently waited. Finally, through the clouds a city blurred and the plane landed. “Welcome to Poland,” she heard on entering the airport.

“No Madrid. Krakow, Poland,” said a little mustachioed custom officer. Ms Morales could not understand a single word of this new, strange language. What was worse, it wasn't just the custom officer but everyone spoke as if they had potatoes in their mouths. With the squeezed ticket in her hand, Ms Morales sat on a plastic chair and began to cry. Poland being no America so it took two hours until the Krakow airport officials found a Spanish translator and explained the unfortunate traveler what had happened. It appeared, they said, that Ms Morales had been shown to the wrong plane which instead of taking her to Madrid gave her a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to visit Poland. Unfortunately, Ms Morales did not have the visa that is compulsory for the Ecuadorians. It was evening already and the Ecuadorian embassy was closed with the ambassador peacefully resting at his home. And just like Tom Hanks in “Terminal” Ms Morales was closed in an inescapable circle. She couldn't go back to Ecuador because she had no return ticket. She couldn't go to Spain because she had no transitional Polish visa. She couldn't leave the airport because without the valid visa she did not exist. “You must wait,” said one official with a pitiful smile.

The airport workers presented Ms Morales with two thin towels, four cold plastic chairs, two bottles of mineral water and tourist-class grilled chicken. For two long days it was her entire world. The chairs were her bed and table; the towels her carpet and quilt; the grilled chicken the most delicious meal she ever had. Finally, after shedding gallons of tears and filling dozens of papers, Ms Morales got a stamp in her passport which allowed her to go to Madrid. Her steps to the terminal were witnessed by the hundreds of other tourists and millions of people in front of TV. The Krakow airport was almost paralyzed since most of its workers assisted the exotic guest to make sure that this time she will enter the right plane. She did.

TV stations proudly reported that Ms. Morales safely landed in Madrid and later in her grandfather's arms. However, no station said whether, like the movie hero, Ms Morales inflamed anyone's heart or learned something important from this unexpected adventure. Although she did not apply for this role, she played it brilliantly: her fear was fearfully real, her tears were as salt as the Mediterranean Sea, and her despairing looks untaught in film schools. And, like Steven Spielberg himself, she directed the final shot with a perfect touch.