Archive for the ‘Tourism’ Category

As I mentioned in a previous post – here at Cartagena Surgery, we’ve decided to explore some of the border cities of our neighbor to the south, Mexico.  For many people,  Mexico is the most practical option when it comes to medical tourism.

For our first look at Mexico, we’ve decided to travel to Mexicali, in Baja, California.  It’s just across the border from Calexico, California and is home to around one million people – making it a large metropolitan area.

With the drastic increase in drug-related crime and killings plaguing many of the other cities in Mexico such as Cuidad Juarez “Murder capital of the world,”  Tijuana and even the smaller Nogales, Mexicali is the safer, sweeter option for border cities.

In fact, Mexicali is known as the most affluent of cities in Baja California – and it is certainly apparent during our visit due to the availability of a wide range of medical services.  While the entry from the central border gate leads to a bustling commercial district, the more upscale, attractive residential neighborhoods are only a fifteen minute walk from the border.

At the Mexicali - Calexico border

About Mexicali:

Travel and Tourism links for Mexicali:

Official Mexicali tourism page – has English version. Also has a health section promoting local physicians and hospitals.

Mexico Tourism Information


Getting Here:

The easiest way to get for (for many people) is to walk.  After driving to Calexico, California – turn down Imperial Boulevard and head towards the border.  Turn right on second street – and cross the railroad tracks.  Immediately on the left – there is a secured parking lot.  It costs about three dollars to park here overnight.

Take your valuables with you – and as you leave, proceed back down second street towards Imperial.  Cross Imperial – and walk about two more blocks.   Turn left on Rockland, and proceed towards the Calexico government building.  On the front of the building – you will see a set of turnstiles (like at an amusement park.)  Walk through the turnstiles – walk another 40 feet to the second set of turnstiles – and you are now in Mexico..

the doorway to Mexico

You will then walk through a short underground causeway – filled with little shops, and money changers/ cambios.  (This is one of the better places to change money – the rates are surprisingly competitive, and beat anything on the American side.)  When you emerge from the short hallway – there are stairs on the left.

These stairs lead to one of the main streets in Mexicali for medical services – Maduro.

Update: March 2012

I will be living in Mexicali for several months – so look for more postings and information about medical tourism/ medical services in Mexicali in the future.


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For anyone traveling to Bogotá or Cartagena, I have created some FREE mobile apps for Android phones. (Still working on iTunes versions).  These apps contain maps, local resources, travel links, and emergency information.  Where to go if you are experiencing chest pain?  Got you covered.. Where to stay?  also covered.. Cheapest flights – in the app..  Where to get a good meal – it’s in there too.. The apps will also keep you connected to the blog where I post all updates to the books, and news about the destination.

Bogotá Apps:
Bogotá Surgery – primarily based on the blog – for those who can’t stand to miss a post.

The Bogotá Companion– maps, travel resources and references, emergency information.

Cartagena app:
The Cartagena Companion – chock full of information, including short videos about Cartagena.

You don’t have to be a medical tourist to enjoy these apps – best thing is, they are all FREE..

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My readers may remember Dr. Richard Eljadue Martinez, DDS one of the dentists profiled in Hidden Gem.   He still maintains an active dental practice in the heart of Cartagena.

Dr. Eljadue also has a small hotel, Portal de San Diego in the middle of the historic district of the El Centro district.  (This is where I have been staying during my return visit to Cartagena – and as you should know by now, No – not for free – that’s not my style*.)

Portal de San Diego

Calle 2nd (segundo) de Badillo No 36 – 17

email: portaldesandiego@gmail.com

Portal San Diego is a charming hotel, a typical property with just a few rooms in the heart of one of the most interesting areas in Cartagena.  It is more than miles away from the high rises of Bocagrande and the modern, all access beach resorts lining the coastal highway – it is a world away.  The rooms are clean, comfortable and European in style – fast internet, hot water and air conditioning make it the perfect hideaway for a writer like myself with a myriad of nearby restaurants and cafes to supplement the complimentary breakfast.  It’s been such a nice place to relax and write while I’ve been here in Cartagena that it would be a crime not to mention it.

Since my first visit to interview Dr. Eljadue – he has added a small bar, Bar del Portal aside the hotel.  It’s a cozy, intimate sort of place, with a retro early 1960’s feel; everything is sparkling clean with crisp lines, and cool lighting.  Frank Sinatra or any of the Rat Pack would be perfectly at home in its relaxed atmosphere.  Normally the music is pure Colombiano – but for me, they’ve added a bit of Puerto Rican Reggeaton to the playlist.

One of the bartenders, Jesus (not pictured) looks a lot like the singer, Prince when he was younger and we joke about that as we sip Aguila and enjoy the evening.

Bar del Portal

*I do not accept gifts, payments or gratuities from any of the physicians or dentists profiled.  *

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Hospital Nuevo Bocagrande, Cartagena –

Dr. Barbosa (right with loops) and Dr. Pomares (assisting surgeon)

Spent the day in the operating room with one of my favorite people, watching him perform a complex case – a Bentall procedure, which is ascending aortic replacement with aortic valve replacement.  This surgery is used to treat large aortic aneurysms, when the aneurysm has damaged the aortic valve.  (The aneurysmal segment gets so large the valve develops severe insufficiency  – so it’s basically stuck open all the time.)

It was good to see Dr. Barbosa and his team again – they are a great bunch of dedicated people.  A lot has changed since my last visit – the economy has taken a toll on the beachfront hospital but Dr. Barbosa’s surgical talents remain superb!

Alfredo de Leon

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Quick trip back to Cartagena tomorrow to check in with everyone.  I know there have been some pretty big changes since I was there last February!  Don’t worry – I’ll keep everyone posted with all the news.

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I am currently in the airport, on my way to Bogotá but I wanted to let readers know what’s going on with the blogs this week.

Right now, Dr. Klein is drafting an article for a new feature here at Cartagena Surgery – the Pharmacist’s corner, where he will talk about medications/ drugs/ drug interactions and other pharmaceutical information.  Hopefully, we’ll have something posted by early next week.

We’re talking about HIPEC again over at Bogotá Surgery – after the publication of a piece of sensationalized journalism over at the New York Times.

We’ve also been reviewing the literature and existing research on high altitude surgery over at Cirugia de Torax.  I hope to have something posted there in the next couple of days, so please be patient..



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The Chicago Tribune ran a new story of medical tourism and all of the options and ‘health savings’ it offers patients.  We’re talking about it over at BogotaSurgery.org today.

A study published in Gastroenterology Update reports that advanced age is not a contraindication to HIPEC. (sorry, no free text available).  As we’ve discussed before at Bogotá Surgery – HIPEC (cytoreductive surgery with intraoperative hyperthermic chemotherapy) is a procedure that brings hope to patients with advanced abdominal cancers.

(I’ve attached links for new readers – for more information about HIPEC.)


Heading back down to Colombia in a week with stops in both Bogotá and Cartagena..

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