Tim Sanborn has been reunited with his wife Nycole and two daughters, and there's been a collective sigh of relief in the community.
He and his wife Nycole dropped by the Cochrane Now studio yesterday to share the good news.
"I got to Calgary airport about noon yesterday (Apr. 30), so that was after about 21 hours in the air--Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to Dubai to Toronto and then on to Calgary--and the company was good enough to put me in in business class, which doesn't happen very often to me. So, I was comfortable and had a couple of beers and about 21 hours to unwind a little bit. It was a good trip."
Nycole did what she could to find relief while left worrying about the fate of her husband and relieved when he made it to Saudi Arabia last Friday. She continued to work and made sure she ate and exercised regularly.
"Sleep was tough. There were a lot of nights where I just couldn't sleep because of the worry or because with the time difference, we would be texting at 3 in the morning."
The longest 20 hours came when she was out of touch with Tim while he was crossing the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia. Tim believes the communications had been muted as a safety precaution.
"I was pretty relaxed until about hour 17, and then I started to get pretty stressed and wondering what was going on. When I finally heard from him, everything was totally fine, in fact, better than fine."
Tim and 54 others were treated like a VIP when they arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia via the HMS Al-Jubail (Corvette Avante 2200).
He says it was almost like being part of the United Nations with the number of countries represented on the naval vessel.
"There was certainly preferential treatment for the visible minorities there and I had to take advantage of that. I have a family, and I have to do what I can do to get home, but at the same time you see a lot of these people still there, still in big trouble, and you've got to hope that they're being looked after, as well. They need their turn."
Now, he's taking a bit of time before returning to work.
"I'm going to spend some time and just kind of recalibrate. It was a pretty life-altering trip and just kind of made me realize how good we have it, even how good I had it there, and how well I was treated as a Canadian."
Travelling is part of his work he truly enjoys but for the moment says he's a little less enthused about it.
"Just being home is where I want to be right now, so I'll take a little time to recalibrate and reset my priorities."
He says his company is giving him the time he needs to adjust and has been supportive throughout the entire ordeal.
"Today I put summer tires on the cars and stuff like that. So when I get caught up on things and get my head right, then I'll be ready for anything. I'm sure."
By the way, a heads up to the Canada Revenue Agency. Tim's going to be a little bit late with his report.
Tim did apply some filters when communicating regularly with Nycole and even more when he spoke with his daughters. Fortunately, he says he was able to give the raw, uncensored edition of his struggles and his fears to the vice president of his company, something he greatly appreciated.
The couple says they're touched by the people who have reached out to lend support in so many ways.
"A lot of people from the different Cochrane Facebook groups and things like that, people I don't really know other than online were reaching out to me," says Nycole, "as well as neighbours who we see them walking their dogs but aren't particularly close, but people were stopping by. They were bringing me food and offering to do chores. It was very touching."
"It's really nice to have a neighbourhood like that where the day we moved in 21 years ago we got a plate of cookies from the neighbour, and today I got a plate of cookies from the same neighbour," says Tim. "It's what's good about a small town. There's a lot of support."
Now, they're making sure they touch base with all the people who reached out.
"I've never been a really big texter and I've spent more time texting the last two-three weeks that I can't wait to be able to put the phone down and stop for a while, but not until I have a chance to thank everybody. It meant quite a bit to have people send their thoughts our way, and I'm very glad they did."
Having been in Sudan on business five times, Tim continues to stay in touch with friends and acquaintances who remain stranded in Sudan.
"I met and saw a lot of people that are Syrians, and they left Syria under similar circumstances for Sudan, and now they're back in the same position where they're fleeing yet another conflict. No one was upset, no one was panicking. People, unfortunately, were far too used to it."
Among them was a Syrian man who is a permanent Canadian resident.
"This poor fellow doesn't have his Canadian permanent residence paperwork with him, so all he has is his Syrian documentation. He's probably on day seven now in that processing yard (in Port Sudan) so I'm trying to do what I can for him from this end and try to get him some attention but I'm sure there are thousands of stories like that.
"People had to flee. They didn't have time to go pack up their belongings and pack up their passports. They were at work, and they had to run for it. Now they're having trouble being evacuated because they didn't have their paperwork. So there are a number of people I'm keeping my eye on."
Tim says he was fortunate to have evacuation insurance to assist with his rescue but there are many who aren't so fortunate.
"I understand that they can't send people into that. It's just not fair to ask whether they're professional soldiers or whatever their role is, you can't ask more people to be endangered, but we certainly could have used better communication.
He says people of other nationalities he met were given assurances that rescuers were coming. Tim, however, found himself going to the internet frequently, waiting to see what Canadian officials were saying.
"I felt a little invisible, and I'll just stop short of saying it was embarrassing."
When quizzed by some South Africans on what Canada was doing he could only say, "I don't know."
"Nothing was really all I could answer with. So, they could have stepped up their efforts."