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Cartagena Services

The main tourism office is at Plaza de la Aduana (Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-1 p.m., 2-6 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Yel: 660-1583, E-mail:, URL: It also has kiosks at the Torre del Reloj and Plaza San Pedro Claver. The administration office is at the Muelle TurĂ­stico La Bodeguita (Av. Blas de Lezo. Tel: 655-0211), but it will refer you to the main office.

In the historic center, police posts are at the Muelle TurĂ­stico La Bodeguita, Parque El Centenario (GetsemanĂ­) and Centro Comercial La Plazoleta (La Matuna). In Bocagrande, the station is near Parque Flanaga (Av. MalecĂłn and Ca 3).

DAS handles immigration matters (Monday-Friday 7:30-11 a.m., 2-4 p.m. Ca. 20B, 29-18. Tel: 666-0438). Instituto GeogrĂĄfico AgustĂ­n Codazzi sells Mapas de Rutas, a handy 12-map, spiral-bound atlas for motorists and bicyclists (Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Ca. 34, 3A-31, Parque de BolĂ­var, Centro. Tel: 664-4169).

Twenty-six countries have consulates in Cartagena. See the back of the telephone directory for a complete list of offices: Venezuela (Cra. 3, 8-129, Edificio Centro Ejectutivo, oficina 802, Bocagrande. Tel: 665-0382; possible to obtain visa in one day), Panama (Cra. 1, 10-10, Bocagrande. Tel: 665-4400), Canada (Cra. 3, 8-129, Edificio Ejecutivo, Bocagrande. Tel: 665-5838), France (Parque FernĂĄndez de Madrid 37-34, San Diego. Tel: 664-6714), Great Britain (Cra. 13B, 26-78, Edificio ChambacĂș, oficina 416, Centro. Tel: 664-7590). Other European countries with diplomatic representatives in Cartagena are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. The nearest US consulate is in Barranquilla.

Banking hours are Monday-Friday 8-11:30 a.m., 2-4 p.m. Most change US dollars; Bancolombia handles American Express travelers checks. Bancolombia, BBVA and Santander are on Plaza de la Aduana. Citibank is in the La Matuna district (Ca. 35, 8B-05). Most institutions have branches along Avenida Venezuela and along Calle del Arsenal. In Bocagrande, banks are on Avenida San Martín (Cra. 2), between Calles 9 and 11. HBSC’s main branch is in this neighborhood (Av. San Martín 10-21).

Casas de cambio typically exchange U.S. dollars, Euros and bolĂ­vares fuertes. Many are on Plaza de los Coches, Calle de las Carretas and Parque de BolĂ­var. Take your passport. Recommended ones are Oscar (Cra. 7, 32-91, Portal de los Dulces) and Comisiones Las BĂłvedas (Ca. del Colegio 34-53). In Bocagrande are several exchange houses, including Cambiamos (Cra. 2, 1-100; a variety of currencies, American Express travelers checks; also MoneyGram agent). Do not change money on the street.

MoneyGram has 20 offices in the city (most at Davivienda banks) and Western Union has 19 branches, including Giros y Finanzas (Av. Venezuela 8A-87, local 3, La Matuna). Check their websites for the nearest agent.

To send that tropical paradise postcard to the folks back home, go to 4-72 post office (Ca. 32C, 10B-30, Edificio Telecom, La Matuna. Also at Ca. del Arsenal 8B-173, GetsemanĂ­). Both branches are open Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-noon, 2-5:45 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Internet is common; many places have Skype. Likewise, phone stands are every place. In GetsemanĂ­ is a small internet place with computers, Skype, and national and international call service (Ca. del Guerrero 29-69).

The main health facility is Hospital Bocagrande (Cra. 6 and Ca. 5, Bocagrande. Tel: 665-5270). The Hospital Naval has a recompression chamber (Cra. 2, 14-10, Bocagrande. Tel: 665-4306). Pharmacies (droguerĂ­as) are found all over the city. Several are on Avenida Venezuela. Drogas La Rebaja has over two dozen stores with delivery; the one in Bocagrande is open 24 hours (Cra. 2, 7-179. Tel: 655-12009, Cel: 320-788-7583).

Laundries are present in all neighborhoods. Expect to pay about $2 per kilogram for wash and dry. Most are open Monday-Saturday and have same-day service. Lavamejor, a laundromat and dry cleaner, has shops in El Centro (Edificio del Tejadillo, local 101, Playa Tejadillo and Ca. del Tejadillo. Tel: 664-5620) and Bocagrande (Cra. 4, 5-11. Tel: 665-0546). In GetsemanĂ­ is Laundry Service (Ca. de la Media Luna 10-19).

By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

21 Jun 2011

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