Best day of my life: Bev Butler

BEV BUTLER, of Dunedin.
BEV BUTLER, of Dunedin.
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.

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.
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.