This was July 2000. I just returned to Russia from the USA. I had visited Olga in Russia in May and had trouble getting a visa for Olga and decided to marry in Moscow. We met in Moscow on my return we had decided to get married. We had filed the papers to start the process. There was a month waiting period. We would go to Olga's home in the North Caucuses. Olga bought the tickets and we were on our way south.
The train would take a short cut through the Ukraine. We got to the border at Belgorod and Russian police check us and our luggage. After a while the train continued to the Ukraine. Some Ukraine police were going from cabin to cabin. We had been traveling in the train for over an hour when the Ukraine police got to our coach. I was a little concerned because I had been told that because of poverty in the Ukraine, the police were steeling from people.
When they got to my documents there was a problem. As a citizen of Russia, Olga was free to go but as a citizen of America I was not free to pass through the Ukraine without a Transit Visa. They talked and talked (maybe they were waiting for a bribe but was not willing to make an offer). In the end I was to be deported.
I was afraid that any money or computer would be stolen so I left all with Olga. They took me off the train and we got on a train going back toward Belgorod, Russia. After an hour or two of travel we stopped at a city. No one spoke English good enough to communicate there or the police station and jail I was taken. I thought I was going to prison and my main concern was getting Tuberculosis (I had heard it was a problem in the prisons).
They spent a long time with a team filling out forms in an office with a bank of desks. Then instead of going to prison, I was taken to the Russia border at Belgorod and set free. I had no money just credit cards (which were usable in Moscow). As I stood there the Russian Policeman (Alexander - Sasha) that had interviewed us about 5 hours earlier came up to me. He spoke English well. He asked and I told him what had happened. He said he was getting off work soon that he just had to file his reports.
Soon the Russian policeman was free. The banks were closed. I told Sasha about bank machines in Moscow. We took a taxie looking for a bank machine but there were none. Sasha invited me to his home while we figured out what to do. I was thankful.
Sasha said that his wife (a narcotics officer) would be home in an hour or so and we could have supper. Again I was thankful. Sasha asked if he could call his High School buddy that spoke English that we could visit. That was find with me. His friend came and we had a nice visit. Sasha's wife came and we had supper.
We had decided to get a taxie and drive to Varonish where I could get the train to Pyatigorsk that went the Russian route. We thought that there may be a Bank machine in Veronish. We got a taxie and Sasha lent me the money to pay.
It was a couple hour drive to veronish and Sasha's friend had joined us for the trip. When we got there we could find no bank machines. We went to the train station and found that tickets could not be bought till after 5 the next morning and the train came like 8 am.
We asked around where credit cards might be honored. We were directed to a nightclub. At the nightclub they had just started taking credit cards. With Sasha's help the women withdrew money and gave it to me. She was asking for something like 5% in fees but Sasha showed her where it was deducted as part of the transaction. I would have never caught the doubling as the transaction was in Russian. I paid Sasha what he had lent me. Sasha and his friend went into the nighclub to party. The cab driver and I went to the cab to sleep.
The next thing I knew it was getting near daylight. Sasha and his friend came out of the all night nightclub. We went to the train station and got the tickets. Sasha gave me his address and phone number and work number. He asked me to promise to came and visit with my wife and I said I would. Sasha, his friend and the driver waited to see me safe aboard.
It is September six years later as I write this. As I was writing, Olga got out Sasha's note with phone numbers and address. After some operator help for the new area code we got through. The apartment was rented by someone else. They said that Sasha was working in Moscow now but his parents still lived there. They said that Sasha would visit in November. We gave them our phone number and email address and asked them to pass it on. We would like to invite Sasha and his wife for a visit. .
Back to finish my story.
I had only been to Pyatigorsk and to Olga's I a near by town once before. In the stress of being deported and concern that the police may take my computer, I had left it all with Olga and told the police I had nothing. In the rush I for got to take my address and phone information out of my briefcase. I had no real idea on how I would find Olga's.
It was a long trip and about 5am the next morning I woke up as the train made a stop. People in my cabin left there stuff and went out to buy something. I had no idea where I was. After while I decided I would step out and stretch my legs. The next thing I knew Olga was there with me.
It turns out that this was Mineralnyvody a city near Olga's where the trains always made a long stop. Olga had been meeting every train that came from the north in hopes of finding me. After about a 5 mile taxi ride we were safe in Olga's home with her father and daughter!.