A Travellerspoint blog

Adventures on Our Way Out of Baja

We left La Ribera on January 31st to start our journey North.


Our first stops were to fill a bucket list item for me of whale-watching and to ensure Scott had a fun time for the Super Bowl. A perpetual bucket list item for him! The gray whales migrate from Alaska down to Mexico every year to mate and give birth in three bays along the Pacific Coast of Baja: Magdalena Bay, the southernmost, San Ignacio Bay, the middle, and Guerrero Negro, the northernmost. Since we had been out to San Ignacio on our trip down (see https://arrrblog.travellerspoint.com/71/, we opted for Mag Bay first.


Our first day's drive was five hours to Adolfo Lopez Mateo on Magdalena Bay for whale-watching. We thought La Ribera was "authentic" and it was but Lopez Mateo is even more so. It is a completely Mexican town with no "gringo" presence at all, save the one hotel we stayed in. They make their living fishing, oystering, and for a few months each year guiding day trippers on whale-watching tours. There is a large sardine processing plant and a giant salt works. the latter produces 13% of the world's salt. It was really cool to see huge front-loaders moving over piles of salt so large it made them look tiny. Lastly, it is the place in Baja that first started to work on the recovery of the Osprey after the DDT kill-off. They put up tons of nesting poles and are really proud to claim that they are responsible for repopulating Baja with Osprey. Not sure how true that is but there were hundreds of nests in the area.

Of course, given our propensity for arriving just in time for a festival, they were having their Whale Festival the weekend we stopped, which included a carnival and concerts. The town was very busy and the music went into the night. It was interesting but definitely not a destination if you don't want to see whales.

We were a bit early for the whales in this bay though. They had not yet calved and were mostly out in the rougher water so they were hard to see. But we did see a lot of "spy hoppers" (this is where they stick their heads out of the water to look around), a few tail slaps, and a few water spouts ( where they blow air out and create a fountain of sorts). It was interesting but left me wanting more.

The coolest thing we saw, though, made up for not seeing much whale activity. On the way back we saw two coyotes on the barrier island beach. I have been wanting to see a coyote ever since we arrived and finally did! They were so beautiful and perfectly colored to blend into their habitat. We had also seen two Silver Foxes during our time in Baja but they got past too quickly for photos so this was really special.

We had an afternoon to kill so went for a drive out a sand road that led down past mangrove bays and out to the open ocean. On the way out, we ran across a family oyster farm and stopped to check it out and talk to them. They were just bringing in a batch from their hanging nets. They sell their oysters to buyers from as far away as Cabo and Ensenada.

They insisted we try some and we could not refuse! They were some of the most delicious oysters we've ever had and really well formed with beautiful deep cups.

The road took us by an old phosphate mine now defunct and mainly home to Osprey, a lagoon created by the mining, tidal flats full of birds, and a race track set up for drag racing. Since it's in the sand it was really short, less than an eighth of a mile!


We met some fabulous people at our hotel in Mag Bay from Germany that were living and working in Peru. There were also going to Loreto next and were taking a route that took them north and on secondary roads past sights they wanted to see. This got me looking for an alternate route for us and I discovered that there was a road to an old mission that would then lead us into Loreto. What I didn't realize was that it was 60+ km of dirt track!

There were small towns along the way, a historic ranch, and a monument to the Holy Christ of the Road. large_cross.JPG

It followed and crossed a huge arroyo the whole way! Some areas had pools of water where we saw birds, burros, and horses. It was one of the most spectacular drives we've done. The valley through the Sierra de la Gigantas was stunning.

This mountain was called "Elefante (Elephant)" and dominated the valley of Santo Domingo.

We finally reached San Javier and the mission was really beautiful. It's is a tiny town of just over 100 inhabitants and was founded in 1699.

Then it was onto the pavement and on to Loreto. The drive down out of the mountains with a view to the Sea of Cortez was breathtaking.


We got into town in the afternoon and headed out to explore since we hadn't done that on the way down. Loreto is another Pueblo Magico and it has a really pretty central area around the church that has open air restaurants and shops.

We even got a sunset back up towards the mountains.
We hooked up with our German friends the first evening we got there for some drinks and dancing!

Super Bowl Sunday Funday we spent at Augie's bar in Loreto. It was a fun gringo bar and though the game was pretty boring the company was fun!


The next day we drove on to the town of Guerrero Negro to do another whale-watching tour. Again, the town wasn't much but the whales were much more cooperative! Check out this video for some up close and personal views!

Truly whale-watching could more accurately be called "whale-waiting" but the wait is worth it when you get to see the babies with their moms and a close encounter like we were fortunate enough have.

From Guerrero Negro we crossed out of Baja California Sur into Baja California and began the long drive across and up to El Rosario.

This may be my favorite part of the whole drive. There are virtually no towns except for Cataviña, no gas stations, just beautiful scenery. We spent our last night in Baja in the same hotel in El Rosario we spent our first night. It was a fitting goodbye.

La Ruta del Vino

We had heard for months that the crossing at Tijuana where we came down is a nightmare going home. Eight or more lanes, several options for entering depending on your pass type, difficulty finding the right lane, and tremendously long waits. So we opted for the longer drive from Ensenada to Tecate to cross at a calmer boarder (one lane!) and drive through the wine country of Baja. So glad we did! The drive is really beautiful. The desert was sooo green with wildflowers everywhere! Such a contrast from our drive down in August!

We got to stop at the L.A. Cetto winery. I had been drinking their Nebbiolo for months and loved it so it was fun to stop and buy a few bottles to take home direct from the winery.

And the boarder crossing was easy-peezy (once we found the entrance that is)! It was sort of back at the edge of town along the boarder "wall" - such as it was.

After crossing we made our way to L.A. by way of San Diego, the coast, and the Pacific Coast highway. Caught our first sunset outside Baja before heading to the hotel.

So we made it! Time for a car wash! We stick out like a Baja buggy in glamorous L.A.
Be sure to keep up with us on Instagram @arrradventures.

Posted by mrb430 09:23 Comments (0)

East Cape BCS Adventures

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After all our family left, we found ourselves alone in a very small and sleepy fishing village with little to do but plop on the beach all day. Luckily, the East Cape offers some amazing day trips and we motivated to get out and see them.


Our first trip was to the El Chorro hot springs. There are a series of hot springs in the Cañon de la Zorra below the waterfall (see our last post). The best, apparently, is Santa Rita but of course we went on a Wednesday, the only day of the week it's closed. So, not to be deterred, we headed on to another one at El Chorro. Finding it was an adventure in itself but it was worth it. We traveled along the canyon and were treated to beautiful pools in among the boulders.

Once there, we lounged in the hot pools...

The hot water actually comes up out of the ground so people build little retaining pools to capture it. The one I am in was also filled with the little fish that eat your dead flesh! Weird! Can't believe people pay for this!

The main pool is not hot so it was a refreshing place to cool off.

You can hike all the way up to the waterfall but we opted for a shorter hike just to the next set of pools. Of course, I had to test the waters. Not going to lie - it was COLD!

It was a beautiful day and well worth the short trip out from Santiago.


We decided to watch the playoff games up in La Paz so drove up and surprised our friends. It was a really fun time and capped off by the full lunar eclipse of the super blood moon! It was great to see La Paz and our friends James and Wendy again! Not to mention the great crew at Harker Board!


Every year the town of La Ventana hosts a kite boarding, wind surfing, and mountain biking competition. There were competitors and fans from all over. The colorful kites and the fun competition made for a really great day.

The foil boarders ride along about three feet out of the water - it's really impressive and they go really fast!large_fullsizeoutput_1c40.jpeglarge_fullsizeoutput_1c3c.jpeglarge_fullsizeoutput_1c3f.jpeglarge_fullsizeoutput_1c3e.jpeg

The highlight was the freestyle competition where they do jumps and flips and all kinds of crazy maneauvers!


Cabo Pulmo Marine Park is a national park protecting the last living coral reef in North America. It was a bit murky because of all the wind but it was a great trip out to the reef and we saw a lot of sea life as well as great birds.

Finally, I had the Go Pro working to capture a sea lion!

And we even saw a turtle!

Definitely recommend a trip out here if you are ever in Baja.

Speaking of birding, I finally started a life list and it's a great new hobby!


After almost five months, Scott finally got me out on another ATV tour. We rented them in Los Barriles and started out up the beach toward the arroyos.

The first arroyo is the largest in all of Baja. It leads to a side canyon that has a short hike to a waterfall. Very beautiful spot!

The second arroyo is also really big but it had water in the arroyo and was really green and filled with large Palo Verde trees, cactus, and scrub.

Then we took the beach road out along the coast to Punta Pescadero a historic hotel in the most scenic spot! Back in the 50s and 60s the hotel catered to Hollywood stars like John Wayne who came to this part of Baja for the exceptional hunting and sport fishing found in the area. The resort comes complete with its own private airfield so you can fly right into your room. A requirement back in the days before paved roads, or any roads in some cases.

It was time for refreshment and food to fuel up for the ride back!


The East Cape Road is a dirt track that runs the coast from La Ribera all the way down to San Jose Del Cabo for about 60-70 miles. We decided to drive it one day and it was quite an adventure. There are many beautiful stops along the way...

But, truth be told, we got sucked in by VidaSol and didn't make it all the way. A stop for a late lunch turned into a party when we met these guys from Brooklyn and found out we knew people in common. Small world!

And the party turned into a sleep over in one of the most amazing rooms we've had. Sunrise from bed included!


At last, we said goodbye to our La Paz friends Wendy and James with a last visit from them in La Ribera. We had a great, relaxing day on Punta Arena/Playa Colorado and on the top deck. And we are very thankful to James for taking all of our surplus to donate to the La Paz Bombadero (fireman) Auction and to the needy of La Paz. Here are a few last pics of some favorite times in La Ribera - in no particular order!

Leaving La Ribera, we are down to a few essentials, yes noodles are essentials!, in the back of Ruby and our packs in the backseat. If we thought we were minimalists before, now we really are!

I'm almost caught up! Ha! We've been in Magdalena Bay (Adolfo Lopez Mateos) for the last two days doing some whale watching and exploring! Stay tuned for that! And don't forget to follow up @Arrradventures on InstaGram from more current updates!

Posted by mrb430 09:02 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

More Family Fun in Baja Sur

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Continuing in the first part of this month, we were fortunate to have everyone together for one night before my parents had to leave. Scott's brother Carl and his girlfriend Diana came in on the 8th and my parents left on the 9th. Dinner at Restaurante La Providencia was just the ticket!

The next day Scott took the rest of the crew to the beach while I drove my parents to the airport and in the time-honored tradition of nothing ever working exactly as planned in Baja, we got a text that their flight was delayed three hours but only after getting halfway there. Not to be deterred from having fun with it, we stopped in Miraflores for their famous Lobster Tacos and Pitaya Margaritas!

For the uninitiated, Pitaya is the fruit that grows on the cactus after it flowers. They are sold along the roadside everywhere in Baja. Anyway, I dropped them off only to find out later that their flight was cancelled! But not to worry, the airline put them up in a beachside hotel in Puerto Los Cabos will all food and beverage paid for - not a bad last night in Bajahaha!

Was so good to have them with us!


We had a beautiful day at the beach with Courtney, Morgan, Carl, and Diana the next day. A batch of orange crushes got everyone in a good mood and I got everyone in the water (well almost!). As per usual, the noodles were a big hit! Best five dollars at Walmart EVER!

The McClures were styling in black...

But Diana and I added the color!

Cañon de La Zorra

We all took an adventure out to the canyon and the famous waterfall pools outside of Santiago. It's about 15 km outside Santiago on dirt roads through beautiful cactus lands until you get to the parking area. After a steep walk down a trail and rock stairs cut into the side of the canyon, you reach the waterfall. The hike down is spectacular marred only by the fact you know you have to go back up!

The pools are cold but refreshing and so clear.

Of course, a few of us had to do the jump off the big rocks into the pools!

Carl looked a little skeptical but he did it!

It was a fun, warm, and beautiful day.

Cabo San Lucas

The girls had to fly out Sunday so we decided to take them for an overnight in Cabo before they left. We spent the day at Blue Marlin Ibiza beach club, our favorite, living like the rich and famous.

The girls did the tour out to the Arco...

...and we partied in the pool until sunset!

After that, we had another day with Carl and Diana but unfortunately it was one of the four rainy days we've had in five months! It was a good excuse for us all to relax and unwind. We dropped them at the airport and were on our own again. It was so great to see everyone and to spend quality time here in little La Ribera.

We've made the most of these last two weeks and I have another post queued up all about Arrradventures. Stay tuned!

Posted by mrb430 08:55 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Wasting Away the Days Down in Baja

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I can't believe it's been almost a month since I've posted a new entry. Time has been flying by as we entered our last month in Baja and have had the holidays and family visits.


Our good friend and my "adopted" little brother from D.C., Timothy, came to visit us in La Paz for Christmas. We had a blast and it was a great excuse to visit our favorite beaches and places one more time as we shared them with him.

Scott also shared his favorite nap spot!


A few nights before Christmas, La Paz had parades in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe. A lighted boat parade and a parade of decorated old Baja trucks!

We spent Christmas Eve with our La Paz friends, James, Joe, and Wendy, and Tim having dinner (and let's just say more than one bottle of Tequila) at our house. It was an awesome night of great food (thanks Wendy) and great friends. We felt very lucky to have yet another "family" to share it with.

Christmas Day we headed down to Cabo San Lucas to hang out at the beach clubs and eat dozens of tacos at Taco Guus!

Then we said goodbye to Tim and headed back to La Paz to get ready for our next adventure.


After four months, it was finally time to say goodbye. Last sunset and last view of our La Paz home.

It was truly bittersweet. We learned its streets and shops and restaurants but also its people, its beaches, it rhythms, and we were enveloped in the warmth of its sun and its people. Saying goodbye was like leaving home all over again. A special shout out to James Williamson who showed us the best of Baja. If you're ever in La Paz, look him up. He is a genuine human being and a great travel guide.


But on we went. We packed all of our belongings, minus a few we left behind with friends, back into Ruby and drove two hours south to our new home in La Ribera. Our last home in Baja. It's a big, beautiful home with a top deck that gives us 360 degree views of the town, the Sea of Cortez, and the mountains.

It also is a great place for photos and sunsets!

The weather has been off an on. If the sun is out and the wind isn't blowing too hard, it's still beach weather.

If it's windy and cloudy, it's fleece and jeans.
Apologies to Morgan for using this photo. As you can tell from the photo above she is neither overweight nor pregnant just had a wardrobe malfunction! It was windy!

La Ribera is a small, quiet fishing village and brings the charms those things provide. Roosters, dogs, and horses roaming loose in the streets.

A deserted beach we have mostly to ourselves.

A small but serviceable market and family run restaurants and small shops that sell fresh empanadas and burritos. It also is serviced by local farmers that bring their goods through the streets. We've had "the organic farmer" stop by with beautiful produce and the fruit guy come by with bags of local oranges and grapefruits. Fresh squeezed juice is a daily ritual since it's all in season right now. Alas there is also a mango farm nearby but they are not in season.


Wayne and Dorothy Bondurant (aka Mom and Dad)
The day after we arrived, we picked up my parents at the airport and began the process of settling into two weeks of family visits. My parents are "off-roaders" from way back when they had their own little jeep in Colorado so we started out by doing the Baja Backroads (sand roads) to a remote lighthouse beach. The day was windy but it was sunny and warm.

My parents drove the length of the Baja in their motor home 25 years ago so they are no stranger to it but it has changed a lot since their visit. I should give them a shout out for that because it was their experience that made me brave enough to do it with Scott. You know, "if my parents can do it..."

They wanted to see the "sleepy fishing village" of Cabo San Lucas again so we did a day trip down to San Jose del Cabo...

...and Cabo San Lucas with them and needless to say they didn't recognize it. But we got out on the glass bottom pangas to see the arch and at least that hasn't changed since they did it on a jet ski.

Of course there were many more boats along for the ride this time. Apparently they had it largely to themselves! And more tacos at Taco Guus.

Morgan and Courtey McClure (aka our daughters)
Our daughters, Morgan and Courtney, came in the next day. We had a stretch of good weather so had a beach day and top deck days just enjoying the sun. We ventured out to the next, bigger town, Los Barilles for lunch, some shopping, and to watch the kite borders. Los Barilles is a Mecca for kite boarding with the big winds and waves and schools.

Yesterday, we took a day trip up to San Bartolo to see the mango trees, the large arroyo, and the huge Sacred Fig trees.

Then on to the mines at San Antonio and El Triunfo.

The weather was cloudy and foggy but it was an interesting day. The new mining museum was finally open in El Triunfo and was interesting if still a little new.

Today we pick up Scott's older brother Carl and his girlfriend Diana. So here we sit, again, having a miserable time at the Cabo airport bar.

Tomorrow Mom and Dad leave, then the girls, then Carl and Diana. At the end of the month Scott and I will have two weeks here on our own and then we ditch everything that doesn't fit into our backpacks and start back up the Baja for whale watching and then on to L.A. for vaccinations, saying goodbye to Ruby, and our flight out to Colombia.

Posted by mrb430 11:12 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Guadalajara Good Times

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We recently had the opportunity to spend a long weekend in Guadalajara, Mexico. We had been wanting to visit the mainland from here in Baja and when we found out flights were under $100 US round trip we jumped. Guadalajara had great reviews from people we've met here and it lived up to expectations.

As the second largest city in Mexico, it is a sprawling mass of humanity, traffic, and chaos. It is also a beautiful and historic place with many great neighborhoods and opportunities for day trips. Unlike other Mexican cities, Guadalajara's sign is not the typical colorful big letters you've seen in our other posts and below in Tequila and Tlaquepaque. This one, I think, must reflect the famous Mariachi song of the same name and how it begins "Guadalajara, Guadalajara". If you are unfamiliar with it, check out Elvis' version. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBy66bXeTSQ


Our first stop after arriving was the Mercado Libertad - San Juan de Dios, the largest indoor market in Latin America and home to stalls selling anything you can imagine. There are multiple levels and multiple courtyards around which the shops are arranged.

Best of all, it is filled with food stalls selling local favorites among which our favorite was the Torta Ahogada! I still stick to the rule that you shouldn't eat anything bigger than your head so Scott and I split one.


The heart of Guadalajara is it's historic center. Here are the buildings that date back to the Spanish occupation in the 1600 and 1700's. It prompted us to take a look through wikipedia and refresh our memory, or perhaps learn for the first time, the dynamic history of Mexico. In many ways, it deepened our understanding of Mexico and it's peoples. Guadalajara was central to Mexican Independence as well as the Mexican Revolution/Civil War.

The main district is centered on the massive Guadalajara Cathedral. Construction started in the 1560's and took about 50 years to complete.

The current towers were replaced in 1854 after an earthquake destroyed the originals in 1818. They dominate the views from all over the center.large_IMG_1836.JPGlarge_IMG_1841.JPGlarge_IMG_1846.JPG

Surrounding the cathedral are four squares that form the shape of a cross around the cathedral. Each plaza is fronted by other historic buildings and the entire area is closed to traffic making it a great pedestrian area in the very heart of the city.

Plaza Guadalajara is west of the cathedral and has a circular fountain and an outdoor restaurant where we enjoyed refreshments and people watching. It is fronted by the Palacio de Gobierno (Governor's Office). This is the historical center of the government of the State of Jalisco. Today it is mostly visited for the murals painted there by José Clemente Orozco, though they are not the best of those to be found in Guadalajara, in my opinion.

Plaza de Armas south of the cathedral is fronted by the amazing Palacio de Gobierno (Governor's Office). It also has a French Ironwork bandstand bought by former Mexican president Porfirio Diaz that's quite beautiful.large_IMG_1824.JPG

Plaza de la Liberación is east of the cathedral and along with the huge Guadalajara sign it has a gigantic sculpture of Miguel Hidalgo, the man who signed the Mexican Declaration of Independence and ended slavery in Mexico. Also, the oldest surviving theatre in the city, Teatro Degollado, is at the far end. It has a beautiful frieze depicting the nine Greek muses.

Rotonda de los Jalicienses Ilustres is north of the cathedral and serves as a mausoleum for important men and women born in Jalisco.
(Note that the bird is real!)

Stretching away from the center, Plaza Fundadores is another beautiful pedestrian way that has a set of fountains running through it along with a huge fountain dedicated to the founders. large_IMG_1847.JPG

It leads down to the Plaza Tapatía and its soaring fountain and finally on to the Instituto Cultural Cabañas that is a cultural and art center decorated with huge murals by José Clemente Orozco. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.

It started as an orphanage and hospital and is an incredibly beautiful building with many cloisters.large_IMG_1857.JPG

There are tons of great restaurants in Guadalajara and on particular the neighborhood of Chapultepec is worth a visit. It's a beautiful boulevard with a pedestrian park down the middle of it. On weekends, it's closed to traffic and open for bikes only. We biked over and had fun there a few times. Scott even got to watch some American Football! Definitely visit Cerveceria Chapultepec where everything on the menu costs $19.90 MXN ($1US)!



Guadalajara is in the state of Jalisco, the birthplace of Tequila and the eponymously named town. Although Tequila can be made in parts of a few other Mexican states, Jalisco is the only one in which anyone, anywhere can produce Tequila and call it that. Like Champagne, Tequila has a protected designation of origin. We decided to take the public bus to Tequila and it was certainly an adventure. It stopped pretty much anywhere someone hailed it or someone wanted to get off. At some stops, there appeared to be absolutely nothing around and we had to wonder how far the person's walk was back to their home. But it was a great way to see the local sights, towns, roadside stands, and of course the Blue Agave fields that make Jalisco famous.
This is a statue of a "jimador" (Mexican agave farmer) preparing the agave heart by removing the leaves.


Tequila is a beautiful town that is very well preserved and is one of the Pueblo Mágicos of Mexico, a series of towns around the country that offer visitors a "magical" experience – by reason of their natural beauty, cultural richness, traditions, folklore, historical relevance, cuisine, art crafts and great hospitality. As with most historic towns, it centered on a plaza that was not only beautiful but filled with Tequila stands that served Cantaritos cocktails.

Normally served in a souvenir clay pot, alas that won't fit in my backpack!

There were also many sculptures throughout out the pueblo that were very nice. These bronze and metal sculptures are pretty ubiquitous in Mexican towns.

Of course while there we had to tour a distillery and do a taste testing and it was so interesting. We watched the process at La Rojeña, the Jose Cuervo distillary, from the loading of the agave hearts into giant ovens, through the mashing, to the final distillation. We even saw a "Tequila Tanker" on it's way to the bottling plants in Guadalajara.

And of course, we tasted the four distillations (from youngest to most aged): blanco, reposado, añejo, and extra añejo. Extra añejo could really rival any good scotch or whiskey for flavor and color. It is aged in French Oak barrels and is known as the brandy of Mexico.

Our guide was a young woman from Tequila who had just finished her university education and was doing tours until she got a job. She told us the story of the 400 drunken Rabbit Gods. "They were the children of the Goddess of Alcohol Mayahuel and Petecatl, God of Medicine. These 400 thirsty bunnies stood for the infinite ways in which people could intoxicate themselves. Infinite? Yes, in the Aztec numbering 400 was such a big number that it also meant infinity. So when someone got absolutely smashed, people would say he was ‘drunk as 400 rabbits’." Thanks Wikipedia for that explanation. Our guide referred to her as the Goddess of Fermentation and said she is closely associated with the Agave (Maguey) plant. She is revered in Jalisco because without her and blue agave there would be no Tequila! There is even a statue for her.

And a very humorous plaque.

On our way home to Guadalajara we were treated to a beautiful sunset behind the volcano.large_fullsizeoutput_1bc4.jpeglarge_fullsizeoutput_1bc3.jpeg



Another Pueblo Magico, Tlaquepaque is located just 20 minutes by bus from the Centro Historico. It is filled with shops selling high end artwork and clothes and many beautiful churches. Of course, there is a main square, more sculptures, and quaint, narrow pedestrian streets.

It is also where we had our first (and only) Cazuela. A relative of the Cantarito, it is also a citrusy Tequila cocktail served in clay but true to its name, in a flat pot.

It was a really great weekend and we would recommend Guadalajara to anyone.

Be sure to follow us on Instagram @arrradventures for more great pics!

Posted by mrb430 14:42 Archived in Mexico Tagged guadalajara tequila Comments (0)

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