A Missed Connection, A New Friend, And What We Learn By Traveling

Nov 17, 2016

This is a story about a missed flight and a new friend.

Matthew Brumley, our knkx travel expert, was trying to get home from Munich, via Amsterdam. But between a de-icing delay on the ground in Germany, and some extra security steps he had to take with his luggage in Amsterdam, Brumley missed his connection.

He was at the airline service counter, making alternate arrangements, when he overheard a conversation nearby. A young Nigerian man – a migrant worker making his way home from France – had an expired passport and could not board his flight to Lagos.

Somehow, he was allowed to board in France, but Dutch authorities would not let him fly.

And the man, named Bola, was having trouble figuring out how to fix the problem.

Lending A Hand

Bola, a Nigerian migrant worker, couldn't fly on his expired passport. Our travel expert helped him fix the situation -- and in the process, remembered why he loves to travel.
Credit Matthew Brumley / knkx

Enter Brumley. He’s been a tour guide for decades, leading groups to Europe, Africa and South America for decades. He’s seen it all, including expired passports.

“I’m stuck for the day; he’s stuck for the day, and I know Holland pretty darn well,” Brumley said.

So they got on a train together, and Brumley helped Bola find the Nigerian Embassy in The Hague. They shared lunch at Burger King, coffee at a Starbucks, and were roommates for the night in the hotel airport, before each flew home the next day.

“I was on a two-week trip that was all about Vienna and Budapest and Bratislava and Salzburg and Munich,” Brumley said. “But for me the best part of my entire trip was that day. We just had a great time.”

More Than A Nice Story

Brumley and Bola exchanged contact information. He doesn't know if they'll ever see each other again, but they plan to keep in touch. And Brumley says meeting Bola was a reaffirmation of a belief he’s stated many times in our weekly Going Places travel segments.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re in a different community of Seattle, or you run up to Canada, or if you’re in a new neighborhood around here, or you’re traveling overseas,” he said. “I think what you learn from traveling outside your comfort zone is that people are the same and there are just a lot of wonderful, decent folks out there, all over our planet.”

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"Going Places" is 88.5's weekly exploration of travel. Matthew Brumley is the co-founder of Earthbound Expeditions on Bainbridge Island, which provides small-group travel to clients including knkx.