Practical Information

Time change

Barbados is 1 hour ahead of Montreal time. That is to say Montreal is at GMT -5 and Barbados at GMT -4.

Telephone numbers and phoning

The telephone in the visitor's area is area code +1-246-422-2034. From North America, you call Barbados just as you would call someplace in Canada or the US. It is area code 246. From outside North America, note that the country code for North America is +1 -- giving 1-246-422-2034. The office telephone (working hours) is +1-246-422-2087. The fax number in the office is +1-246-422-0692.

For long distance calls, dial 0 to get the Barbados operator, and follow instructions for using your credit card (Visa, Master Charge, perhaps some others). An alternative is to buy a Barbados phone card for 20 Barbados dollars (US$10), but if you are calling far away, you will only be able to make a very short call. The card can be used in public telephones displaying the phone card sign. There are some of these at the shopping area in Holetown, a 15 minute walk from Bellairs.

Your own telephone company's telephone card might or might not be useable. Sometime the 800 numbers are not available in Barbados.


Bellairs Research Institute,
Holetown, St. James,
Barbados, West Indies


Very slow email access is available from one or two pc's in a small room off the wet lab area. There is a printer.

Travel documents

US and Canadian citizens do not need a visa to travel to Barbados. Please check with a Barbados tourism board or a travel agent if you are not a US or Canadian citizen. In any case, you'll need something like a passport or a driver's license. Check with a Barbados tourism website, e.g.,

The ambiance

Please remember (in addition to your bathing suit): 1) This is very small, informal workshop. We will be living in close quarters, cooking breakfast together, working together for a week. The facilities are not run as a hotel. There is no main desk lobby area, coffee shop, laundry service, etc. Keep your expectations low as to services and workshop organization. Suggestions and initiatives are very welcome.

2) There is _almost_ nothing that can go wrong. It's hard to imagine not having a pleasant and productive time. Barbados is a small (10miles x 20 miles) island of reserved, friendly people. They are proud of their tourist industry. At the shopping centre a 15 minute walk south from Bellairs, there are banks with machines that will take a standard variety of bank cards; there's a post office, a grocery store, a pharmacy, even cappucino, Cuban cigars and various specialty items for rich tourists. Anything you leave behind, you will be able to buy there, plus t-shirts, post cards, sunscreen, etc. Many shops take credit cards.


There's only one airport, so fly there (Bridgetown is the capitol city, Grantley Adams is the name of the airport). After going through customs and getting your bags (this may take a while), go outside and get a taxi. Tell the driver you want to go to Bellairs Research Institute in Holetown, St. James. Explain this is between the Folkestone Park and the Coral Reef Club in Holetown. Bellairs shares a fence with the park. It is the first property to the north of the park, on the beach side of the road. As you will be coming north from the airport, you will pass the park, then turn left into Bellairs. It's a tiny driveway. No big lighted sign. There is a small sign that says "goods entrance, Coral Reef Club". Your driver will find it without much trouble. The fare will be roughly US$35 for a taxi, US$55 for a van.

Airport departure tax is Barbados $25, which is sometimes already included in the airplane ticket.

Car rental: It's pointless to rent a car for use during the week, but if you really want to, you can find cars for rent at Sunset Crest, the shopping centre just south of Bellairs. But you can get around easily on the buses. These are frequent and interesting. The small, private ones are reggae buses and feature regae music. The large blue buses are govenment buses. Also, there is a taxi stand close to Bellairs, where we can rent vans in small groups and be taken sight-seeing by a driver.


Barbados is an independent country (before the 1960's, it belonged to Britain), and so has it's own currency, the Barbadian dollar. One Barbados dollar is worth about 1/2 a US$. Many shops and people will take US or Canadian dollars, including some taxi drivers and beach peddlers. However, you will need some local currency, or you will be getting into complicated international finance deals involving small sums of money with the other conference participants. (E.g, we rent a van together, and everyone is to pay the driver 50 Barbadian dollars. You have 20 Barbadian dollars and 20 US dollars. Is someone willing to give you change in Italian lira if you .... etc.) This is not the kind of math problems we want to work on.

The currency exchange at the airport used to close (perhaps still does) on Friday at 5pm? 6pm? There are automatic money machines that accept most international bank cards in the little shopping center near Bellairs, and they dispense local currency. The Toronto and Montreal airports sell Barbados dollars, unless they run out, which they do.

You'll need local cash for a Sunday restaurant dinner (these can be expensive -- say US$25 each), plus Saturday and Sunday lunch and snacks (say US$10 each), plus the taxi from the airport.

On Monday, you will be able to cash traveller's checks at the banks at Sunset Crest shopping plaza.


Upon arrival, check the blackboard in the patio area for messages for the group.


For your room assignment, also check the patio area for a list. The "E" rooms are in the east block (away from the beach); the "W" rooms are in the west block (closer to the beach by a few metres). (This is where the workshop will take place, around the dining table in the patio area. We have a blackboard propped against the wall, and some chalk.) Also, a message board. When you get out of the taxi, look around for the main lighted area. That will be the dining area. It's only a semi-enclosed patio, so it's easy to find.


The Workshop officially begins 9am, Saturday morning. Each day will have two sessions, 9 to noon, and after-dinner to whenever.


In general, Barbados is expensive. Everything is imported except the beer and rum. You can buy sunscreen, film, etc., there, but at fairly high prices compared to the US or Canada. So bring those things with you that you would mind paying a high price for. A very rough estimate of expenses in US dollars: $260 for 7 nights' room and breakfast plus and 5 nights' dinners at Bellairs; $50 for 2 nights' dinners away from Bellairs; $70 for 7 days' lunches away from Bellairs; $50 for taxis; $50 for souvenirs, entertainment, postcards, phone charges, etc. Roughly US$500 total for expenses excluding airfare.

Bill payment

Try to settle your bill a day or two before leaving, since many people may be leaving around the same time, and it takes a while.... Most people are not in a rush in Barbados. You can pay by credit card, cash (Barbadian or US or Canadian), or check (US or Canadian), or traveler's checks.

Food and beverages

Breakfast: Bellairs provides breakfast, but we are _not_ to snack on breakfast items throughout the day.

Kitchen rules: We are expected to clean up our own dishes. Breakfast dishes should be cleared and washed before the morning session. Glasses and cups should be retrieved from rooms. There is a fridge in room down the hall for our use. Please keep the door locked, or things will disappear. We will keep the key hidden in the patio area.

Material for breakfast is provided (usually, unless they forget) by Bellairs. This is basic fare: Wheatabix, corn flakes, white balloon bread, eggs and cheese, margarine, guava jelly. Sometimes some fruit. Look under the plastic basket on the counter in the kitchen. We make our own breakfast. From the fridge in the kitchen, we may take milk, eggs, bread, jelly. If you are good at making coffee, omelettes or french toast for a crowd, whoever is sitting at the table will be happy ....

Coffee/tea: Instant coffee and tea is provided. Often people bring their own favorite teas or coffees. Helping to make coffee for the group is always appreciated. Fill the electric kettle to the brim; someone else will be along wanting coffee soon.

Restaurant meals are expensive, but there are a couple of beach snack food places that are reasonable. We will go there a LOT for lunches. Also, the tiny little rum shacks often have sandwiches (ham and cheese/ fish) to take away at inexpensive prices. (The ham and cheese are very good in Bbdos. Also the bread.) We'll have dinners at Bellairs (possibly going out one night in addition to Sunday); lunches we'll have down the road -- or find your own provisions at the grocery store in the Sunset Crest shopping plaza (now open on Sunday afternoons). This year, there is a cook who is willing to prepare lunches if we sign up as a group in advance.

The cook provides dinner except for Sunday night. We must sign up for this by 11 am. This is hard to remember to do when we are deep in a problem session. Hence I am going to make the default assumption that everyone wants dinner every night it is available, and I will just tell the cook in advance. If for some reason you do NOT want dinner at Bellairs on Sat., and on Mon. - Thurs. (5 dinners total), please let me know before 11 am on the day(s) in question -- else your bill will include these dinner charges.

Fruit: there is a fruit/vegetable stand on the other side of the shopping center from Bellairs. Or you can buy fruit at the grocery. Don't eat the fruit of strange trees. We almost lost the guy who tried the fruit of the manzanel tree on the beach.

Sometimes we pool our resources to buy a stock of beer/rum/refreshments. Sometimes groups prefer taking turns making contributions to the group welfare, sometimes groups like to keep careful accounts of who owes what. You know how it is. We'll see what kind of group we are when we get there. Experience over the years is that if someone contributes a bottle of rum, some limes, and some peanuts to the table in the evening, it will be consumed, no problem.


In recent years, there has been a growing problem with theft from rooms. This is not caused by the Institute's loyal employees of many years, but rather by determined, swift, and invisible outsiders. Do NOT LEAVE YOUR ROOM UNLOCKED while you are sleeping, or while you are showering, or while you are stepping outside even for a minute. The Institute has no way to reimburse your losses. The thieves are apparently after CASH, not credit cards, passports, laptops, etc. However, this may have changed since last year. It's probably all right to bring a laptop, but please understand that the risk is yours.

Two participants at our 2002 workshop had their money emptied from their wallets.

Do not leave anything close to the windows. Do not bring valuables. Keep your passport, tickets, etc. in the office safe.

Falling coconuts

Watch out for them.


There are some small ones at night. They do not generally carry diseases and they only itch a little bit. However, cases of Dengue fever have been reported in Barbados. Generally, it makes you sick with something like the flu; occasionally, it is fatal. As a general rule, the problem is in dense urban areas, and the kind of mosquito that transmits the disease is active during the day, 2 hours after sunrise, and 2 hours before sunset -- i.e., around 8am and 4pm or so, so to be on the safe side, do wear your mosquito repellent especially at these times. In your room, you will find a small plastic object that plugs into the wall. You put a small "Fish" tablet onto the metal plate of the object, and ensure that it is plugged in. This helps repel mosquitos. Replace the fish tablet every day or so. Even better is to turn on the fan at night, and lie in the breeze. You might want to bring some repellent (although this can be bought there). Mainly, the mosquitos hide under the dining table and bite us in the evening problem sessions. They also lie in wait in the showers. This year (2003) the problem is minimal, because it has been very dry. No mosquitos.

Underwater dangers

Scraping against coral, stepping on sea urchins (ouch!), becoming addicted to snorkeling and scuba diving, being pulled out to sea on your rented windsurfer by off shore breezes, being swept away by the undertow (usually there isn't one, but sometimes, there is).

Living quarters

These are not fancy. Each room will have as many as 3 people in it; each person will get a narrow bed with a thin mattress. Your 2 towels are for the entire week. Do not take them to the beach. (you might want to bring your own towel for the beach)


The bathrooms and showers are down the hall. Some rooms have bathrooms, but these may not have hot water. The plumbing is quite slow and sometimes needs encouragement. Please try to keep the floor in the shared shower/bath areas dry, as water attracts the mosquitos.


Please wash the sand off your feet at the outdoor pipe outside the dining area or at the outdoor pipe at the beach end of the East dorm when coming from the beach.


Usually very nice -- temp.s in the 80's F, 25 C. Usually sunny, but sometimes cool with brief showers.


Barbados is very close to the equator. Light skinned people burn very quickly.


North American standard.

Possible things to take

sunscreen, hat, sun glasses, camera, bathing suit, snorkel, fins, extra towel for the beach (the one in your room is for the entire week), shampoo, a couple of pads of paper (not provided at Bellairs), pencils, coloured pens, ticket, travel documents, possibly a light sweater or sweat shirt (occasionally, it's cool), small umbrella or rain jacket (occasionally there's a 15 min. shower), beach or shower sandles, something to wear to a restaurant other than t-shirt and cut-off jeans (nothing fancy -- it's just that some places don't like jeans and beach wear), running shoes if you're a jogger, mosquito repellent, copies of papers for reference or to pass around, overheads if you'd like to give a talk. If you are thinking of bringing a lap top, remember that security is minimal. Don't leave it lying around while you are at the beach.


Some are within walking distance; usually we work on Sunday morning, but this can be rearranged to Sunday afternoon if anyone wishes to attend services.


If you'd like to give a talk, please let us know in advance. Usually the overhead projector works, but you might be using the blackboard instead.

The first session : Open problems

The first session on Saturday morning will begin with a discussion of what problems we'd like to work on for the week. Think about throwing out some problems that you'd like to see the group tackle.