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A Traveler’s mini-guide to Barbados

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For those used to the frantic pace of modern life, Barbados may come as surprise. Bajans (as the locals call themselves) are well known for a laid back, easygoing attitude and an infectious air of optimism. Find out more about this Caribbean island.

Barbados is the most easterly of the Caribbean Islands, lying about 200 miles east of Trinidad. Formerly a British colony, Barbados gained self-governance in October 1961. The official language is English, with the majority of tourists coming from the US and UK.

For those used to the frantic pace of modern life, Barbados will come as quite a surprise. Bajans (as the locals call themselves) are well known for their incredibly laid back, easygoing attitude and an infectious air of optimism.

For those traveling from the UK or US, no visas are required. Recommended immunizations are for hepatitis A, typhoid and yellow fever. The best time to visit is during the dry season from February to May, but even the ‘wet’ season enjoys an average of eight hours of sunshine per day.

The local currency is the Barbados Dollar. In August 2007, the exchange rate is 4.03 Barbados Dollars to the British pound and 2 Barbados Dollars to the US Dollar.

Social attitudes, like administration and architecture, tend to echo the British provincial market town. Indeed, Barbados is known by many as the ‘little England’ of the Caribbean.

Bajan specialties include an excellent array of seafood, such as flying fish, lobster, and sea urchins. Sweet potatoes, plantain, yams, avocados, figs, and coconuts are some popular examples of local produce. For the more adventurous, try souse, which is boiled pig’s head or feet served with a pickle consisting of onion, parsley, cucumbers, limes and peppers.

Unsurprisingly, rum is the spirit of choice, which is used extensively in cocktails on the island. Banks is a highly recommended locally produced beer. Another local drink is mauby, a bittersweet drink boiled from tree bark.

Some trademarks associated with Barbados include cricket fanatics, elderly women in prim hats, calypso music, rum (of course), and a vibrant nightlife.

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