Our Community - Linda Carter - "The 'Wonder Woman' of San Pedro"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 13, No. 26            July 10, 2003

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Linda Carter

The community of San Pedro has experienced tremendous growth in the past several years. An economy that once depended on men who fished is now based, primarily, on tourism dollars. Most of the visitors who hear about Ambergris Caye think of it as a scuba diver's dream. This week, The San Pedro Sun is proud to introduce the first woman dive instructor on "La Isla Bonita," Ms. Linda Carter.

    Born on April 3rd, 1949 in the US town of Charlotte, North Carolina, to a career military man and his artist wife, Linda Eileen (Watkins) Carter was raised as an "Air Force Brat". Traveling from base to base, Linda boasts growing up with her brother and sister, in 29 of the 50 United States, as well as Germany and Japan. Her fondness for water sports started at an early age. As a teenager, she learned to surf on the pristine shores of Hawaii. Following this cue, Linda's first job was working as a lifeguard on Daytona Beach, Florida where she also learned to scuba dive. After being educated at 18 different schools, she received her high school diploma, and then attended North Carolina State focusing her studies on business.

    Shortly after this, Linda fell in love and married a Navy man, thus, beginning her second journey around the world with a military man. During this time, she also gave birth to her one and only child, Barry.

    From dive trips to the Red Sea in Egypt and the Bahamas, to traveling all over Europe, Linda never seemed to settle down in one place for very long. Her list of travels is almost as long as her list of vocations, 35 in all. From legal secretary and furniture maker to being employed as a "Quality Control Welding Inspector" for nuclear pressure vessels, Linda was a "Jill" of all trades.

    In 1977, Linda's interest in diving led her to become a dive master and to subsequently earn her dive instructor's certificate while living in San Antonio, Texas (where her mother currently resides). With traveling and diving in her blood, in 1986, Linda found herself exploring the world's second largest barrier reef, off the coast of Ambergris Caye.

     "It's the common story," said Linda, "I fell in love with the people - and the diving." Following her return to the US, she sold everything and was back in San Pedro by February of the following year. Establishing herself as a competent diver, Linda soon became the first female dive instructor in Belize. She started out as manager and dive instructor for remote resorts such as the Manta Reef on Glover's Reef and the Blue Marlin on South Water Caye. After "roughing it,"(no television for 12 years!) Linda happily returned to "civilization" and employment at most of the upscale dive resorts on Ambergris Caye.

    Linda recalls a wealth of underwater experiences, like swimming with a pair of whale sharks and the time she witnessed an enormous, elderly spotted eagle ray surrounded by four white-tipped sharks. One of her favorite dive spots was the Red Sea because of the "the magnificent soft coral gardens" she encountered there.

    With over 12,000 dives under her belt and following her doctor's advice, Linda is finished diving. Her nomad days are over, too, for she has found her "home base" at long last. Stating her reasons for finally settling down, Linda explained, "I have more friends here than I had in all the other places combined. I love this casual life and can't imagine living anywhere else. Besides, after going barefoot for so long, I can't find shoes to fit my feet anymore."

    Linda currently makes a living as manager of the Pier Lounge, a popular entertainment spot where she is also known as the "Queen of the Chicken Drop". In her spare time, she now enjoys less physical tasks like "channel surfing," reading, cooking and eating.

    Linda has no set plans for the future, preferring to live day-to-day. She takes things one step at a time, and accepts life, "one experience after another - whatever comes next." Her only goal is to someday retire in a tiny cottage on the beach.

    A firm believer that "No moss grows on a rolling stone," Linda continues to travel whenever the "wanderlust" overcomes her. These days, however, she returns to the island she calls home and San Pedro is blessed, for Linda Carter is an amazing and "Wonder"-ful Woman in "Our Community".

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