A Travellerspoint blog

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Buenos Aires

sunny 50 °C

Ok, so it´s been a few days since I got here on monday night (depends which way you look at it). My 24hr day turned out to be more like 30hr or more seeing that we were chasing the sun around the world.... It got away. Chuck Norris would have caught it.

When Swarez (his real name is Swarly but we changed it in light of our suroundings to be more exotic) and myself arrived here we took a cab to a hostel in the city called Hostel Nana for less than 40 pesos per person.
To tell you the truth we didn´t find Buenos aires all that intersting because BA is a large port city just like any other in the world. It's big, it's dirty and expensive and other than parties at night or going out to a pub there isn´t much to do here.

On the other hand we had three and a half days here in BA while waiting for three more of us that came finally on friday after noon. We´ll get to that later.

So in three days we had more than enough time to get to know the city and our way around it.
On the first day we joined forces with two or three other people that have been here for a while by then, and we all went to this "Midrahov" for tourists where you can spend ridiculous amounts of money on junk and souveniers.
Later that day Swarez and I went out with three other girls that arrived a week before us and knew their way around better than us and took us to this pub on the main street and had a great time.

On the Next day we all decided to look for a way out of BA, so we found a cheap travel agency not far away, and met the girls there in the morning. We went inside thinking this could take a while, so in my head I planned out specific timetables for everything. In the end it took less than a minute for the person there to tell us there were no flights leaving for our destination until January 26.
Our original plan for the trip was to land in BA and then take the first flight out of the city to a province called Ushuaia which is in the south of the continent, the southern most habitable place on the planet.
Our dreams crushed, face first into a pile of garbage, which there is an abundance of here, we were still determind not to give up!
So we went and found ourselves the best all-you-can-eat restaurant and ate, between the five of us, around two cows, a chicken, and one puppy.
After leaving the travel agency, and before the restaurant, it was our first chance of really seeing the city. So armed with an arsenal of maps, water a massive will to see stuff I persuaded everyone to walk and not take any public transportation, because that way you can see more stuff.
Swarly was up to it, but the girls gave us a hard time at first because it was boiling outside. While walking on the main st. we came across this big church/cathedral - I don't really know what the difference is - and by the time we went out the girls were happy that we walked.
We continued walking toward this big "Park Ra'anana"-ish palce and on the way we stumbled across a Beit Habad!
So of course we went inside and spoke to the Deputy-Rabi who was very nice to us and gave us cold drinks and some explenations about the city.

Yesterday nothing real special happend other than riots around the city - WE WERE NOWHERE NEAR THAT DON'T WORRY.
We walked around BA again for a while, and then went to the girls' hostel and sat there for the rest of the evening drinking beer and eating spagheti a la bolognez.

On friday afternoon Oran, Omer & Nir finally arrived and because our hostel was full we had to find a different one for all of us.
That night it was christmas eve and we were invited to dinner in our hostel with alot of meat and alcohol, and also to a different hostel where the girls stay. In the end we decided to "celebrate" christmas at the girls' hostel like true jews, with meat and beer and wine!

On saturday afternoon we've booked a 16 hour bus ride to Mendoza. We had a whole day to kill until the bus ride so we met three beutiful Brazilian girls that are also staying in our hostel and they took us by bus to La Boca. It's a very beutiful little area in BA that has beutifuly colored buildings, and a lot of tourist attractions and had a great time there.

That's it for my first post. we're now waiting to board the bus hoping it'll be quick and painless. I hope that whoever is reading this, it wasn't too long and boring.

No puppies were harmed during the making of this post. any and all names and location are completely real. Any and all accidental similarity to any fictional person/persons is completely by accident.

Posted by Son_of_Axe 12:52 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)


Buenos Aires - Mendoza

sunny 40 °C

Greetings all!

Continuing the story of my travels from Buenos Aires. On saturday morning after waking up with a massive hang-over and a little tour around La Boca we finaly left for the bus terminal on our way to Mendoza.
Mendoza is due south of BA about 14-16 hours away by bus. We took a night bus there so it wouldn´t be too boring on the way. The ride itself was very easy, and other than an Australian movie that you couldn´t turn down the volume, it went without accident.

Mendoza is one of the biggest wine-countries in Argentina. It is responsible solely for nearly 80% of the wine in Argentina. What did you think that with all that meat, there´s no wine to smooth the passing?
Anyway, On our first day we arrived in the morning and imidietly found a nice little hostel not far away from the bus terminal called Ruca-Potu, (or something). we met a few Israelis that are also staying here and we imidietly hit it off. We went outside with them to walk around the city, found ourselves a supermarket and bought about 5 kilos of meat and five litres of beer. That night we had a great BBQ for about ten people.

The next day we decided to go on a mini-trek. Have you heard about StarTrek? This was kind of similar, only without the Klingons. We woke up early in the morning and went to a mountain range called The Acon Cagua, which is the largest range in the continent and the fifth largest in the world. The air is clean, the scenery is absolutly AMAZING. Because it is summer right now it wasn't cold, (right up until the end when it got windy as hell and freezing), so the wheather was perfect for our half a day trek. the drive there is a four-hour bus ride alog beautiful country-side with lots to see. Too bad I was asleep most of the time.
All in all it was a very succesful day that we all enjoyed very much.

On our last day in Mendoza we all went to a part of the city called Maipu (pronounced My-Poo) for the long discussed wine-country tour. We took a bus from our hostel to Maipu and found a bike renting "company" for 15 pesos (cheap!) and took the bike for the rest of the day traveling from winery to winery drinking wine, different kinds of specialy made liquers and LOTS of chocolate. We had lunch at one of the wineries and returned to rest at the hostel for the night bus to Chile!

Thanks for tuning in again. I hope you enjoyed reading this as I have experiencing it (not likely, but thank you for trying anyway).
May the Force be with you, all of you.

Posted by Son_of_Axe 14:15 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)


Santiago de Chile & the New Years, Pucon

semi-overcast 24 °C

Hola everybody! Greetings from across the border!

We left Mendoza and Argentina behind on thursday, December 29 at night, and arrived in Santiago de Chile on the 30th, after many hours spent on the bus and some more hours spent at the border. The bus ride itself was horrible. Ten minutes after departure the bus broke down and we had to wait for a replacement, and again, the new one broke at the border leaving us stranded for hours.

After finaly reaching Santiago we found ourselves a hostel near the center of town.
Santiago is the capitol of Chile. Nothing special to do there. Very similar to BA or Mendoza only cleaner and more organized. Also most people there wear rock and metal bands' T-shirts. So far the best city we've been to, because it's a city that has the mentality that we like with all the music and stuff.
At our hostel we met - of course - some Israelis, and obviously, because we're awsome, we hit it off. We decided we want to find a party at night together but eventualy we lost them and met instead, while walking on the street, three beautiful chillian girls that took us to a great party that only we seemed to enjoy, because we couldn't understand what the band was saying.

The next day was New Years eve. We all went to the city to find a cheap supermarket and buy us some food for another of our famous BBQ's. We ended up with thirteen people, a vegeterian, and a whole lot of dead cows. It being the new years and us being for the first time (for me at least) in a non-jewish festiivity, we were all exited about finding ourselves a good New years party! We didn't. We instead, found ourselves surounded by every drunk and homeless in Santiago, hugging us and wishing us a happy new year. I kissed Nir. Very romantic.
In Israel, on our independence day we have a 30-60 second fireworks barrage, and we all marvel at it, at it's length, and thought, and the planning of everything. Here, come midnight, it was a 20 minute barrage! AMAZING. Five million people in the street celebrating the new year. Absolutly amazing. Never seen anything like it.

The next day we left Santiago for a small town in the mountains called Pucon. Next to Pucon is located a dead volcano called the Villarica (pronounced Via-rica) covered in snow at the top. So of course we have to climb it. The town itself is a pure tourist town. Everything is more expensive than anywhere else that we've been to so far, but very picturesque. Looks exactly like the ski resorts in the movies. We rented a cabin for a few days, also, just like in the movies. We cooked for ourselves, just like in the movies. And while digesting the food, siting down and talking, we felt the quake, just like in the movies. Not to worry, if you've heard of the earthquake, you already know it was a 7 point something on the Richter (Andy Richter?) scale, but it's origin was a town 200 km away from us, so all we felt was only a small shake. Our bird fell, though.

This town we're in has many extreme sports attractions. Treking, volcano climbing, paintballing, hydrosurfing, rafting, snapling (?) and more.
The first attraction we did was waterfall snapling. The five of us, five more people, and two guides, went to the starting point of the whole shebang. We walked at first not really sure what's going on, and realizing that we're being taken through this sort of jungle. The most beautiful place I have ever seen. We snapled (?!?) with divers' wet suites to keep the body temp. from dropping in the freezing water. We paid to scale three amazing waterfalls and did just that. We walked, and scaled and crossed the stream all the while. They say quiet waters run deep. Well, so do loud waters. Very deep.

Today is wednsday. The wheather outside is beautiful, and an even better one to climb a live volcano that keeps smoking.
Just to get some words out of the way - I CLIMBED A FUCKING VOLCANO! excuse my french.
Now that we got the honnest part out of the way let's get back to the subject at hand.
We woke up early in the morning, and went to the tourist agency where we signed up for the trek to climb the volcano. The volcano is covered in snow and is nearly 3 km high. The first part of the climb I could've paid around 50 pesos and ride the cable-car to the real starting point. Most people did just that, but I like to think of myself as not most people, plus I dont like cable cars. Feels like you're hanging in the air and about to fall. So I took the long, hard way up to the meeting point. To tell you the truth that was the hardest part of the entire trek because of it's steepness. The rest of the way was slow and cumbersome, moving in long zigzags all the way to the top. The view while climbing was absolutly stunning. The sky was completly clear, and we could see the entire valley stretching below us, with giant lakes that don't seem to end, and far away to the north, other active volcano's could be seen. Now, the thing that kept my mind going on the way up was something that my CO from basic training once said to us, before going on one of our long night marches, "Even a thousand mile march starts with one small step". The whole time I couldn't help but think of my army days, and no matter how hard it was back then, the thing that kept me going then, and now, was the view. The tallest mountains we used to climb were, obviously, the hardest, but we always got to the top. The view, and the well deserved rest was always worth the whole march. A volcano's maw looks like a giant toilet. Seriously. No magma. Although the guides said that in March lava can be seen.
Ok, I have to confess. Not just the view from the top kept me going today, but the way down too. We slid the entire snowy part, all the way down, on our asses! Villarica (pronounced Via-rica) is the world's biggest bob-sled. Words cannot express how much fun sliding down a four, or five-hour climb, in one hour is.
Now for those of you waiting to see these next words, here they are. I had no ring to throw in. Sorry.

On saturday the 8th, we're going to wake up early in the morning, and catch a bus to a small town south of Pucon called Osorno on our way back to Argentina. From Osorno we will take the bus, and cross the border to Bariloche and back to Argentina.

Now one more thing. Last september I went by myself for a few days up north and ended up in some beautiful places in the Golan. Few of you know though, that I wasn't completely alone. I had a rubber Ducky with me the whole way that kept me company. Since then I was planning to take that Ducky with me here and take photos of it doing extreme sports. But I forgot my companion at home, and only last night I was reminded of him by someone who did know about it back then. So in order to fulfill my dream, I have purchased a wooden ducky in one of the markets, and soon you can expect to see many, many pictures of a silly wodden duck on tall mountains!

Posted by Son_of_Axe 09:40 Archived in Chile Comments (2)



semi-overcast -24 °C

Across the border agian.

We left Pucon on Saturday morning, on a bus ride to Bariloche across the border, back to Argentina. The bus ride was long and ardouos. We arrived that afternoon, and we imidiatly started to look for a place to sleep. Bariloche today has the most tourists it had in ten years! All of the hostels are completly full. By 22:00 we gave up, and decided to sleep in the street. By chance, while looking for bread in a supermarket, we met a guy from high school, that told us about his hostel that might have some room, and they might allow us to sleep in their back yard in a tent.

The next day wasn't as successful as the last. We woke up early in the morning, and asked the hostel manager if he has any available beds. He said he has two left, so we told him we want the two beds. We went out to get some money out and went back to the hostel, and by the time we came back he already gave the beds to someone else. I started to argue, and he said that it's our problem, not his, that we don't have a place to sleep. I lost my temper and eventualy struck a nearby door. That offended the guy more than you'd think. He kicked us out.
Now, I know this wasn't the best way to deal with a problem, but he was way out of line himself, the way he spoke to me.
We eventualy found three beds in another hostel. That meant that two others were still stuck, so Oran & I decided to sleep in a tent on the lake bed. It was worth every peso I saved, because when we woke up in the morning we had the entire lake right in front of us. WOW.

It has been an uneventful few days. We woke up too late to do anything productive like bike riding or anything. The highlight of those two days was that we met the three girls from BA again, Stephanie, Luba & Adi and went about the city a bit, scouring for chocolate.
On thursday afternoon though, I went with Swarez to KM 17. It's a lookout point on a mountain just outside of Bariloche (17 km away from the civic center). According to Nat. Geographic, it is the fifth most beautiful spot in the world, or something. Breathtakingly beautiful. The way up is either by cable-car or by foot. Have I mentioned that I hate cable-cars? Well, I do. They suck. I didn't go by foot, because the only way anyone would agree to come with me was if I promised that we take the cable-car. Cable-cars suck.

The next day, we again woke up early in the morning and took a bus to a spot called the 18th KM. From there it's possible to rent bikes from several different rental places. We took a bike for the whole day for less than 70 pesos each, and went on a bike trip around the Bariloche lake. Our circuit was the short one, it was only 25-ish KM long. On mountainous routes, beautiful vantage points, and hidden lakes, the ducky was there. It swam, it floated, it flew and rested. We took our time with the bikes, not hurrying anywhere. Where most people finnish the trip in about 4-5 hours, we rode for over eight hours. At some point around the lake, there's a small beer brewery with exellent home made beer. It was so quiet, peacefull, and cheap, that we didn't want to leave when we finnished. The bike rental manager was one of the nicest people we've come across so far. At some point during the day, Oran's bike-chain broke. We found a cell phone and called hin, and less than ten minutes later he was there with a new bike for Oran. When we finnished, at the end of the day, we rested in the yard of the house, and he gave us a bottle of local beer on the house.

It has been two days since anything interesting happened. At some point, during the week, while having dinner at the hostel, I spoke to a girl called Natali, who is also staying in the hostel, and we figured we are on the same track. She is looking for someone to travel with. Her direction, for now, is south. My next stop is a county in Chile, called La Caratera Austral, which is south of Bariloche, and so is hers. I don't know if i've mentioned this before, but I'm splitting away from my friends. Too many dissagreements, fights, and a general bad feeling among us, I think that it's best that we split up. When I imagined my big trip, back home, before actually coming here, I saw it as something completly different. So far, I must admit, that it hasn't fulfilled my dreams and expectation yet. I mostly see it like it is, because I can't realy do what I want, and how I imagined a trip to south America would be like. It has been nearly a month, and I haven't gone on one proper three-five days trek. We were all planning on going on a trek this weekend, but the weather forecast (in spanish) said it would rain. It rained. And so, I am leaving my friends in search of my own adventure, not theirs. On monday morning, on the 17th, I am travelling back to Chile with Natali. The wheather south of here, in Esquel, where I am going, is supposed to be the same for most of the week, so Natali and I will probably stay for a few days there, and cross over to Chile only later in the week.

In the meantime, Live long and Prosper.

Posted by Son_of_Axe 07:23 Archived in Argentina Tagged me Comments (1)


La Caraterra Austral


First I want to say that no matter how long this post might be, words cannot describe the beauty that I have seen.

It is January 18. I have arrived yesterday in a small town called Esquel, about 80 Km away from the Chilian border. The town is very quiet, surrounded by giant mountain ranges, and beautiful scenery. I am staying in a tent with Natali in a camping site, just one block away from the casino. Hopefully the wheather will clear tomorow, and we could finaly make our way into Chile.

We took a bus, on the 19th, to a town nearer to the border called Trevelin, from there we made our way into Chile by foot, and finaly camped for the night on a river -bed just across the border.
The walk across was very pleasant, despite the fact that the wind almost blew us from our feet. The scenery, again, is absolutly incredible. Mountains, lakes, rivers, and only one road in and out.

The next day, we woke up quite late, not hurrying anywhere, and started our way toward a small, in-between town, called Futalefu. There, we resuplied, ate the most delicious bannana's, and continued on our way. We caught a ride with five chillian's, who were so nice, that they re-aranged their pick-up truck for us. We rode for over four hours with them in the back of the truck. At first it was fun, seeing everything, and feeling the wind on our faces. But after a few hours it got colder and colder as we went higher into the mountains. Our asses went numb, and it was dificult to speak, because our lips froze too. It was both an exiting, and freezing experience. We stopped at one point, near a river so blue, it makes blue look shy. Our destination today was a town called Chaiten. Chaiten is north of Futalefu, and to the west of it. It rests right on the pacific ocean. This was my first time seeing the pacific, and we arrived aprox. At 9 PM and decided to make our camp just outside of town. Chaiten resides next to an active volcano, that devastated the town on May 2nd, 2008. Today the town is mostly coverd in mud, and all the houses, that are made of wood, stand just barely. Still, it was a must see place, even though it wasn't our direction, which is due south of here, to El Calafate. The general feeling of the place is mostly depressing. It's very grey, cold, and abandoned, and few people still live there.

The next day we woke up at 8 AM, and started our way down south again, back where we came from, to a place called El Amarillo. We caught a ride with a guy named Juan, in a giant semi-trailer, that took us all the way, 40-50 km back to Santa Lucia. Today our destination was a town called La Junta. We didn't make it. It hasn't stopped raining since we left Chaiten in the morning. We started to leave Sta. Lucia, and tried our luck with hitchhiking again, but our luck didn't hold. After I tripped, fell into a stream, and got completly soaked, we decided to call it a day. We looked for a good place to park for the Shabat, and found an abandoned (I hope) barn. We went inside to investigate, and found nobody inside. All the signs pointed towards abandoned, and so we decided that this was a once in a lifetime oportunity to sleep in an abandoned, filthy barn. We set up camp on the top floor, cooked, and waited for the rain to stop. It didn't, and we had to wait until morning to keep on moving.

Now, I know that I said that the Caraterra Austral is a county. I was wrong. It's a way, a route, much like the "Hotze Israel". The route goes from north to south, passes through many towns and villages. Many people travel there, because it is so famous for it's beautiful scenery. Nearly every ride we hitched, the people that took us were ones that are seeing the Caraterra for the first time, and were stopping at every chance they got to photogragh everything they could.

The next day, on saturday morning, we began our way toward La Junta again. With the sun on our backs, the wet pants hung on my Muchila, and past experiences of the days before, when people were still nice, we started to walk. And walk. And walk. We walked for a few hours, because nobody picked us up. Natali started to get exausted, and began to lose hope of catching a ride. While resting on the side of the rode, finaly, Mr. Murphey decided to show up. Just as our coffee was ready, a young couple with their baby, stopped and picked us up precisely to where we needed to go. We resuplied in La Junta, and went on with them, to Puyuhuapi (try to say that 3 times in a row). The ride with them was just over a 100 miles, and it took us a few hours to get there. Puyuhuapi was our last stop for the day. We refilled some batteries in the tourist office, pissed off the lady there, and went to the lake to find a good, leech-less, place to camp.

In the morning when we woke up, we packed everything up again, and made our way back to the main road. Not 3 minutes have passed, and the first car that went by picked us up. A young Chillian couple, on a mission for the Chillian government, were also on their way to the Hanging Glacier. Near Puyuhuapi, about 20 km south, there is a national reserve. In it there is a giant mountain range, that you can either take a boat ride in the lake towards it and be much closer to the glacier (but where's the fun in that?), or walk all the way up, for over an hour and a half, in a slippery slope, that takes you to a view point across from the glacier, just above the valley below. What you see is beyond words, and the pictures don't even come close to what you actualy see. The glacier is caught between two mountains, and giant waterfalls pour to the valley below, and from there to the lake. On the way up we spoke to the couple that picked us up, and discovered that what they do is travel the country by van, see the most beautiful things, film them, and everything is government-paid. When the girl asked my name, I said my name is Bar. She asked me what it means, and I explained that in hebrew it means something wild, like a wild flower, or animal, or even fruit. Then she told me how to say it in spanish, "Salvaje". I like it. I might change my name to it.
Anyway, continuing our way, we kept on travelling with them for a couple more hours, then they dropped us off, and we were picked up by this nice Chillian lady for the rest of the way we had today. She took us to a city called Coyhaique (pronounced like something I can't really write). There we found an organized camping site, so that we could finaly take a shower, after a few days of starting to smell a little bit sour.

When we woke up on monday morning, we went for a short walk around the city center, and then back to the camping site. There we packed up our things again, and headed out of the city. It took us hours and hours to catch a ride and even that was a short one. After that, we caught another ride that brought us closer to our final destination for the day, Villa Castillo (pronounced Viya Castiyo). Because no-one wanted to stop for us for most of the day, we walked alot. In between hitchhikes we walked for miles and miles. Mostly because of me, because I can't stand staying in one place, and Natali had no choice but to walk also. After a long walk in the afternoon, she began to lose hope again, until by chance, a small minivan with a friend of her's in it stopped. Apparently, it was an organized bus ride to a small town I can't remember the name of. Natali insisted we take the bus. It was 5000 pesos per peson. We bargained with the driver, and managed to bring him down to less than 2000 each. Eventualy the bus dropped us off 8 km away from Villa Castillo, so we started to walk again. About 3 km from town, a Chillian man on vacation, stopped and picked us up. We stopped in Castillo, in a small diner, that is actualy two old busses connected together, to drink coffe with him that he payed for! He was a very kind, nice man. While drinking coffee we talked and he said that he's driving that night to Puerto Tranqillo (pronounced Tranqiyo. Tranquillo=Tranquility, Tranquill), which is 120 km away from where we were, and was our next stop, that we thought to make only on the next day, because of what we heard that there is to see and do in Villa Castillo. By the way, Castillo is Castle. In the vicinity of the town there is a giant montain, that it's top is shaped like a castle. We wanted to climb the mountain on the next day and only after that continue on our way. We didn't want to pass the chance of the ride, neither offend James (the man that picked us up) so we went on with him to Puerto Tranquillo. All the way there we listned to Rock n' Roll music of old, and finaly, after three and half hours, when we arived, he gave us some beer that he had with him in the car. Of course, we accepted and drank with him until it was finaly time to part on our seperate ways. We didn't have the energy to look for a proper place to camp, so we set up camp behind the tourist office in town.

The next day we went to the tourist office and they told us about some marble caves they have in the area. We payed 5000 pesos each, took a short boat ride to the caves, and realized it wasn't worth the money paid. The lake itself was very beautiful, but to pay 5000 pesos to see something for only a half hour, and not that special at that, was just not worth it. After the boat ride we started to leave Puerto Tranquillo by foot, and ended up walking for three hours, and waiting for four more before someone eventually picked us up. It was a very hard, tiring day. The ride that did pick us up, took us to the next town called Puerto Guadal. It rests on another lake-bed, and very quiet. Puerto Guadal is the last town before the border town Chile Chico. So there, we met ten other Israelis who were waiting for a ride that didn't come. We sat with them for over an hour, drank my coffee that I brought from home, and finaly said goodbye and continued on foot out of town to find a place to camp for the night. A small tip for you campers who are reading this, before opening your tent, test the ground that you are about to sleep on. I found an amazing, empty field to set up camp in, but I didn't lie down to see if the ground was level. I found my self sleeping in an impossible angle, and woke up during the night after I rolled on top of Natali while sleeping.

The next day again was very difficult to find a ride. Nobody seemed to want to pick us up, and we, again, walked for hours until, finding some shade, we stopped to rest. For over three hours we waited until a Chillian buisinessman picked us up for over 60 miles and had to drop us off in the middle of nowhere. We waited for another hour until we were picked up by a Chillian family, that took us all the way to the border town, Chile Chico. There we walked to the edge of town, hitched a ride with a nice, toothless Chillian construction worker and his son, all the way to the Chillian side of the border. From there we walked to the Argentinian side and caught another ride to the end of our hitchhiking journey (for now), to an Argentinian border town called Los Antigos. There we saw most of the Israelis we met on the way. We joined with another Israeli named Alon, and made camp in an organized camping site, just outside of town. We cooked, showered and went to sleep "early" so that we could wake up early and take a bus, down south, to a city called El Chalten.

"The Caraterra," says the Hitchhikers guide to Chile, "is big. Really big. You just won't believe how hugely, vastly, mindboglengly big it is. And so on....". While hitchhiking you always need to remember, "Don't Panic", and you always have to know where your Towel is.

Posted by Son_of_Axe 11:11 Archived in Chile Comments (2)

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