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In Mexico, "The Terminal" Come To Life

Hiroshi Nohara, a 41-year-old man from Tokyo is delighting tourists and travelers in Mexico City, simply by calling its international airport his home, as CBS News' Susana Seijas reports.

Nohara arrived at Benito Juárez International Airport on Sept. 2, and never left.

Since he arrived, Nohara has eaten, slept, and used the bathroom facilities in the massive airport's busy Terminal 1.

Dressed in a beige windbreaker, black jeans, and disintegrating Nike shoes, Nohara has gone without a proper shower or bed for more than 70 days.

With a blanket draped over his knees, Nohara has become something of a tourist attraction. Travelers are seeking him out at the terminal's second-floor food hall, many wanting their pictures taken with him or asking for his autograph.

"I feel bad for him. Lots of people come and see him. It's a freak show, poor thing," says Victor Manuel Nava, eating a hamburger from MacDonald's at a nearby table. "I get bored just being in the airport for a while. I can't imagine living here."

Immigration and airport officials are puzzled but not bothered. "What he is doing is legal," says Adriana Angeles, a spokeswoman for the Mexico City International Airport. "He's here [in Mexico] on a 180-day tourist visa. He's not breaking any rules. His papers are in order."

Nohara's story is reminiscent of "The Terminal" - the 2004 Tom Hanks film about a foreigner who finds himself stranded at JFK airport and makes his temporary residence there. The film's hero spoke no English, and Nohara speaks no Spanish.

"This could be 'Terminal 2: The Sequel,'" jokes Nohara, through an interpreter - a man calling himself "Dr. Goto."

"I didn't set out to copy the movie," Nohara quickly adds, displaying a mouth full of yellowing teeth. "I came here on September 2, stayed overnight, and ended up staying longer."

Nohara has been able to survive thanks to the kindness of strangers, such as Maria Mata, a 57-year-old cleaner at the airport.

"When I get anything from travelers, I give things to the Japanese guy. I try to help him. I noticed he was cold, and I got someone to give him a blanket," says Mata, her eyes visibly welling up; her son died homeless a year ago. "What I couldn't do for my son, I'm doing for him. I'd like to think people helped my son too."

Rosalia Silva, the manager at Hipocampo Tortas, a fast food sandwich store at the airport is another person helping Nohara.

"I give him a cup of coffee in the mornings, a sandwich for lunch and a light soup for dinner," Silva says.

Officials from the Japanese Embassy in Mexico City went to visit Nohara at the airport recently. "He's traveling on a valid passport and has a return ticket to Japan," Mr. Masayoshi Ono, the Director of the Press Department at the Japanese Embassy tells CBS News.

Nohara says he has no immediate plans to return to Japan. "I don't miss all that," he says. And despite throngs of journalists trying to get to the bottom of his mystery, Nohara simply calls his stay at the Mexico City airport "a private matter."

By Susana Seijas

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