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Remember the movie The Terminal? Robert Wladyslaw Parzelski lived it.
The story is still unfolding, but Slate reports that Parzelski, a Polish man, traveled on a British Airways flight from London on June 17 on a one-way ticket purchased by a friend in Poland. He was to return with "two telephone sets." How, when, or why has yet to be determined.
Parleski, who spoke no Portuguese and arrived without any cash, was supposedly meeting a friend in São Paulo, but the friend never arrived, and Parzelski, like Tom Hanks in The Terminal, simply lived in the airport, subsisting on water, yogurt and cigarettes given to him by airport custodians.
When asked what he was doing, he simply replied "I'm Poland."
This story caught the attention of the Folha de São Paulo paper, where reporters began an attempt to figure out Parzelski's story.
Newspaper reporters (not authorities) finally found a doctor in São Paulo who spoke the language and was able to speak to Parleski -- sort of -- and determine that he was, in fact, "lost" inside the airport. The doctor revealed to the media that Parzelski was a father of five from Krakaw, Poland, who moved to London to work as a builder. After he was laid off, he traveled to Brazil at the behest of a Polish friend in London with the mission to return with two telephone sets. Why the telephones? Nobody is sure.
"Before embarking ... [we] spotted Parzelski enjoying a dark ale at a bar inside the departure lounge," the Folha de São Paulo wrote Wednesday.
Parzelski's story has ended, though. He left São Paulo on a Swiss Airways flight on Tuesday, bound for Zurich and then London.
[Flickr via MarkHillary of Sao Paulo airport]