I was born and raised in the small twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Growing up, I had many ideas and fantasies about who I wanted to become but never would I have imagined the life I have….and I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
As a child, I was always very fond of the beach. Growing up on island meant that this was a frequent past time and so it became a part of who I am. My father worked for a company that was responsible for ensuring that all the safety lights around the island were working and accessible. This included frequent trips to lighthouses with spectacular views or risky boat rides on tiny single-engine pirogues in open water to get to some the more remotely located lights. As a child, I never saw the dangers of my dad’s job, just the adventures.
It was a while before I learned to swim though, my first encounter with being “taught” was being thrown into a pool at around 7 years old by my swim instructor. Not the best introduction, I can assure you!
Eventually, I learned to swim and went on to swim competitively and represent my school. Though I never won a race, it never bothered me, I just enjoyed being in the water. During my school years, I also participated in Gymnastics and Netball both of which I had more success than at my swim meets.
However, my love of the water always drew me close to almost anything to do with being in the water, so it was no surprise that I fell in love with diving.
After I graduated from high school, I found myself trying different jobs. My first job was through a government program for youth called the OJT (On the Job Training) program, which was a short contract since it’s only meant to be an introduction for young people into the working world. After that, I did another short contract as an administrative dental assistant. Then I landed a more permanent job at a local newspaper where I stayed for seven long years before I decided to pursue a career in diving.
My interest in diving is what brought me and my husband together and I’ve never looked back a day since. It’s been one of the greatest decisions I’ve made in my life that has made me a much more well-rounded person. Diving has afforded me the opportunity to meet amazing people from all around the world, to make new friends and to help me find strength in myself I didn’t know I had.
My journey to diving started nine years ago in the most unexpected manner. October 2010, I was on a mini-break on the Island of Tobago, one of two islands that make up the Republic of my home country Trinidad and Tobago. One of my friends who was with me said he wanted to go to meet a friend of his to get a bottle of his favorite home-made rum punch and I agreed to tag along since it wasn’t far from the beach I was going to.
We approached the front desk at the hotel his friend worked at and asked to see her. I’d never been there before, so the entire place was new to me. I was checking out all the different attractions the hotel had to offer while we waited and I came across a brochure for SCUBA Diving. Young and curious, I inquired…obviously, I asked the girl at the front desk where I could find this dive shop and pointed to the brochure. Luckily for me, it was on the same compound as the hotel and the staff there were happy to give me the answers to my questions. I would later find out that I was actually speaking with the owner of the dive shop.
My friend and I had walked over to the dive shop after he got his rum punch and we asked a few questions about their service. My friend said he was interested in the sport too and that we could plan to make a trip over in a few months to get certified. The owner of the shop Mr. Alvin “Big Dougie” Douglas told us that it only took a few days to get certified and that the certification was recognized worldwide and we’d be able to dive anywhere in the world. That sold me; I thought it was a cool thing to do, and I loved to travel, so that opened doors of having more to do on my vacations.
The cost of the course was out of my vacation budget but I told him I’d be back in February the following year for my next scheduled vacation and I’d be able to do it then. My friend said he too was interested in getting certified and he would also come on that trip so that we would do it together. I took all the information I could from Mr. Douglas and promised to stay in touch. My friend and I left the dive shop that day, beaming! We couldn’t wait to come back the following year to get started.
Fast forward to December 2010. I’m sitting at my desk at work when my friend calls me and says “I can’t make it to Tobago to do the diving thing with you” I say “oh no, is everything alright?’ He goes on to tell me that yes, things are fine, and as a matter of fact, he just found out he’s about to be a dad, and he wants to save his money for his baby. I congratulated him, let him know that everything will be ok.
So, I was on my own
I must have called Big Dougie every day from when we left the shop that day till I left to do the course. Every question I had, I called, I called to say that I started to buy my gear, what should I get? I called to ask for the account number to make the payment for the course; I called to say that I had booked two weeks vacation so that we didn’t have to rush through my course. I called him for things I can’t even remember anymore. Thankfully, he was patient, and he was kind, he was very understanding of my enthusiasm and very helpful!
February finally came, and I was more than ready! Fins, mask complete with snorkel and gloves in hand, swimsuit on, I was ready to go! I called Big Dougie to say that I had landed and asked him what time he wanted me to meet him at the shop. I spent the next two weeks under Dougie’s wing, absorbing every ounce of knowledge I could. Practicing every skill, I was taught and memorizing all the rules and procedures. I was determined!
My desk job
I was one of two “booking clerks” at one of our local newspaper companies, and there was absolutely no room for growth. The manager I had at the time had her favorites in the staff, and I was not one of them. The staff all had their cliques, and I fit into none of them. They were all cut from similar cloth, and I wasn’t even of the same fabric. I stood out like a sore thumb, and they never failed to remind me.
Since the first day I took my first breath underwater, I knew I was in trouble, I was in love. I had fallen head over heels for diving, and there was no going back. Diving became my passion, my heart was stolen, and I didn’t even mind.
Within the year that I began diving, I had also gotten a promotion of sorts, nothing major, just a few more dollars for a bigger headache. I was still learning the ins and outs of this new position when there was a major mess up in one of our daily publications. Without so much as the opportunity to explain what happened, my boss tore into me. She cut me a new one, stitched me up and then cut me a new one again!
Angered and frustrated, my seemingly difficult decision was made for me. I went to see my boyfriend and explained to him what had transpired at the office, and I told him I had had enough, and I was ready to leave it all behind. We had spoken previously about my diving and me wanting to go to the professional level, so it wasn’t a shock to him.
I suggested that I could leave my day job, go over to the sister Isle and work in the dive shop while I gain the necessary experience and beef up the number I’ve dives I’d done to be able to do my Dive Master. I was worried; however, our relationship was still quite green, and I really wanted to keep our relationship and take the job in Tobago. So, being the upstanding and loving man that he is, he agreed. He helped me do my resignation letter and said we could work on keeping our relationship together by seeing each other every two weeks or so until I was finished and then we would go from there.
I went into work the following morning bright and early and told them to piss off, in a proper professional manner, of course. When my boss got in and saw the letter of resignation, she offered me a larger salary and a better position but too little too late, my heart beats for the love of the ocean, and I could not be swayed.
So began my journey to the Instructor I am today!