Continuing last year's Summer Times quest to find out
what was the best day of people's lives (except the birth of
their children or the day they met or married their partners),
another eight Otago residents tell their stories.
BEV BUTLER, of Dunedin.
In August 2005, out of the blue, I was offered a maths
teaching job at an international school in Kazakhstan,
Central Asia. Within two weeks, I packed up my life in
Dunedin and left with my daughter to take up the position. My
husband, Peter, was to join us after tidying up our affairs.
Our son stayed behind to finish his studies.
Weeks turned into six months before I would see Peter again.
The only opportunity to connect with him was weekly by phone.
Finally, in February 2006, Peter flew to Almaty, Kazakhstan.
While it was summer in Dunedin, it was deep winter in
Kazakhstan. Snow was piled high in the streets. The school
gave me time off to meet him at the airport. My daughter and
I were dying to see him. There was uncertainty wondering just
how smoothly, or not, things would go at the Kazakhstan end.
View down street of our apartment block. Photo supplied.
Entry into Kazakhstan was by way of a ''letter of
introduction'', with the visa given at the border. The country
is very bureaucratic and corruption is rife.
When I arrived, I had to pay Customs $US1000 ($NZ1220) to get
my luggage from the airport to my apartment. I hoped there
would be no ''problems'' with my husband entering the
country. I remember seeing him as he came through Customs.
There he was, a familiar man, but after such a long time I
looked anew at the person to whom I had been married for 27
years. There was much hugging and kissing.
We drove from the airport through the wintry cold of Almaty
to our apartment. The strangeness of a new environment where
he was suddenly with me, in a most Russian of cities, was not
lost on my husband. We had been transported to another world,
separately, but now we were together again. That night, the
three of us trudged through the snow and had an exotic dinner
in an Uzbek restaurant in the city.
In bed that night, I told Peter the story of how during the
recent Kazakh elections a government minister defected and
was later found dead in his apartment with two bullet holes
to his chest and one to his head. They tried to pass it off
as suicide! It took three days before they conceded there may
have been foul play. We laughed, joking how some people go to
extraordinary lengths to cover up the truth.