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Costa Rica 2007

Info from my November-December 2007 trip to Costa Rica. Visiting Jaco and Montezuma (and explore the peninsula that Moctezuma is on).

Written By: Gary on January 2, 2011 5 Comments

It was four years ago today that I was in Jaco with Mark and wanted to check out the Nicoya Peninsula. We heard the easiest way to get there was to take a taxi boat from the beach North of Jaco to a little town called Montezuma.

I think we were there about ten minutes and “I said can we stay another day?” and by the end of the evening asked if “we could spend another day” on top of that one…

south-beach-montezuma-IMG_7172.JPG

I’ve been back at least six more times and I think I love it more every time. I’ve talked about Montezuma many times (the first post with probably be this one, so scroll down) and plan to talk and visit it many more.

Written By: Gary on December 18, 2007 One Comment

FerrypaqueraI really liked a bunch of photos from the ferry ride (set 7) when I was on my way home. This was the ferry from the Nicoya Peninsula (from Paquera, I think) to Puntarenas. It was a really nice ride and had some great scenery.

This was a great ride, I think it was about $3 for a person (no vehicle). Here’s some info about the transportation from the airport to the Lower Nicoya Peninsula.

Written By: Gary on December 9, 2007 3 Comments

I found it! The ring I got in Costa Rica was buried in my luggage! I was showing Mark the cool features of my new security backpack and out it popped.

Cr2007RingIt wasn’t even anything very fancy, it was just one that I liked. I picked it up at a store in Jaco called Guajira, the word Guajira means a few different things so I’m not sure what the name means, they’re right on the main strip so you can’t really miss it.

As I said before, it was the only souvenir that I had picked up (besides my peanuts) so I was extra disappointed that it hadn’t even make it home. So I’ve been wearing that this weekend so I’m a happy camper :)

Written By: Gary on December 5, 2007 One Comment

I hiked back up the Montezuma Waterfalls Monday. I made good time since I remembered the route better this time. Some local Ticos were jumping from up high, the jumping wasn’t so dangerous as the climbing up the front of the waterfall, that was pretty amazing. Puts where I was jumping from to shame, but I still had fun jumping and swimming (and that’s the point, right?)

ZumadiverThis guy jumped from a higher spot but I missed the shot, I couldn’t get the camera out fast enough, the video of this jump is still pretty high though.

At the upper falls I started chatting with a few groups up there so I didn’t stay long and headed back with them since they wanted to try the way I was going to leave by. I was going a bit different direction since it was supposedly more direct back so I had to make some of it up as we went along (they knew this). It was certainly an easier way back (although you don’t se any of the falls) and I saw a few animals and a few sights I hadn’t seen before. I did get to see a huge iguana, an odd bird, and a monkey of some kind that I hadn’t seen before (a howler?).

And of course there is a sixth set of photos to see (with some labels too!).

Written By: Gary on December 5, 2007 No Comment

So I’m always trying to adjust the date and time on my camera, making it fit the time zone I’m in / adjusting the time changes (DST) and it’s pretty much just turned into a pain to keep correct. I’m thinking of just using GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) and then it’ll always be right and if I even need to know when I took a picture it’ll technically be right and I’ll be able to figure out the difference (if I need to).

I’ll have to test a few photos to Flickr and a few other places to see if they adjust or do anything to offset the time from where I say I am. Anyone who’s also been annoyed by this have any thoughts on the matter?

Written By: Gary on December 5, 2007 2 Comments

I purchased a ring in Costa Rica, I really liked it too. That was really the only souvenir that I picked up while I was there :(

About an hour from the hotel yesterday I noticed I didn’t have it on, but I did have my other ring on, so I’m confident that I put it on and it wasn’t in the car. My hope is that it’s buried somewhere in my luggage/dirty clothes but I’m not hopeful. It’s probably in the hallway in the hotel, where I was wrestling with my luggage early in the morning, most likely in the stairwell since that was the biggest trick (it’s an odd, steep stairway) everywhere else I was just pretty much rolling it along…

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Written By: Gary on December 5, 2007 No Comment

I made it home, I was up at 4:30 am and I’ve been traveling (car, boat, car, plane, plane, car) since 5:30 am. I’m just getting home at 1:00 am Detroit time (but it’s just Midnight Costa Rica time.

I’ve got a 5th set of Costra Rica photos up, mostly of the area where I drove around the Southern end of the Nicoya Peninsula (a few have labels). That’s assuming all 19 photos upload properly, I’m not staying up to see….

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Written By: Gary on December 4, 2007 One Comment

I can’t believe how empty this plane is! It’s the plane from Costa Rica to Atlanta. I had an emergency row seat with a little more legroom (but it’s got the funky trays and they seats don’t recline), so I ended up moving and have a whole row to myself. I put up the armrests and stretched out, that’s enough legroom for me!

Now if I only had kept that old pillow that I brought with me and discarded back in Costa Rica…

Written By: Gary on December 4, 2007 One Comment

In addition to the few books I brought I left some other things in Costa Rica. I always bring a few things to leave behind. When I’ve got some stuff that I know it’s near time to get rid of it, I’ll take it on vacation and leave it there. This includes books, an old pair of shoes, the jeans I wore to get there, a few old shirts (etc.), a few wash cloths (the hotels don’t always supply them here), a pair of beach shoes, and a pair of sandals if they don’t hold up. The clothes are stuff where when you pull it out of the dryer you can see it’s only god for a few more washes and are starting to fray and you think it won’t last many more washes. I even brought an old pillow that I almost got rid of last time I was cleaning (I’m kinda fussy about my pillows, if I travel by car I always bring one of my own). It lightens the load as the trip goes on :)

As I get close to emptying things out at home I’ll save them for a trip. Toothpaste, shaving creme (not as empty as I’d like so if I have room, I’ll bring it back), shampoo, etc. Why carry down all that stuff full and bring it back 1/4 empty? I just take it 3/4 empty, which is a heck of a lot lighter and leave it when it’s more empty.

I travel heavy, I blame my mother for this, I was an only child and we usually traveled by car so I could bring anything I wanted as long as it kept me entertained (quiet). I think that’s when I probably started bringing my own pillow too (that might be something I got from Grandma).

Written By: Gary on December 3, 2007 No Comment

I’m up early in the morning to catch a 5:30 am cab so I can catch a 7:00 am ferry so I can then drive to the San Jose Airport for my 2:00 pm flight to go to Atlanta and then to Detroit. That’s going to be a really long day…

I’ve never taken the ferry before so that’ll be something new at least, I think it’s about a 75 minute ride. Maybe get some good photos as I’m doing that at least. I think I’ll have some idle time at the airport because of the ways the times work out…

Written By: Gary on December 3, 2007 No Comment

So on my first night in Montezuma I was out on the beach in Montezuma watching the stars and it was perfectly clear. After a while I realized I hadn’t seen any shooting stars. I thought, “If I saw a shooting star, I’d wish that I could move down here”. At that instant (I’m not kidding) a huge one goes across the sky, coincidence? I think not! Technically, I can’t tell you what my wish was since it won’t come true, right? (or is that candles?)
starimage

And after that I easily saw another dozen over the next hour, but none as long and bright as that one….

Written By: Gary on December 2, 2007 2 Comments

montezuma fallsSaturday, I did the (mostly easy) hike to the bottom of the main Montezuma Waterfalls. Then I did the even longer steeper climb to the top of falls and to see the other falls that are way up there. This is where we almost lost Mark (as in “over the edge”) a few times on the last trip.

This was a chunk of the day since after getting there I spent some time at the lower, upper and back and the lower again. I also got to test my new PacSafe lockable backpack (see my other post from slightly earlier today) as I left my stuff (camera, video camera, keys, etc.) locked to a tree.

I’ve got photos posted of the waterfalls and a few other shots (see set 4 for the latest as of this writing), Again, I’ve (mostly) got titles and captions. I’ve noticed a bit of my photos are kind of dark lately but I can’t figure out if it’s the lighting or something odd set on my camera.

Written By: Gary on December 2, 2007 3 Comments

Sunday, I rented a 4-wheeled ATV and drove it all around the southern end of the Nicoya Peninsula. It was a great day. I was pretty dusty and dirty by the end of the day.

I went to all the towns on the map (not Cabo Blanco, which is a nature preserve).

The beaches were beatiful by Santa Teresa but otherwise I’m not sure what everyone is raving about. Maybe I missed something? But it didn’t even seem like there was much on (or by) the beach. And it seemed a little far from the ‘town”. I was a little rushed but still, I had high hopes…I’m at an Internet Cafe, which I didn’t realize would be so fast or I’d have brought pictures to post. These guys have satellite, I don’t undertand how the competition stays in business, or why these guys don’t charge a little more…

Written By: Gary on December 2, 2007 No Comment

Here was my mission: I was looking for something so I could go hiking or walking along the beach. But I want to have my camera with me, but when I go swimming (or something where I need to put my back down) I don’t want to leave my stuff unattended. So what I had in mind was a smaller version of an military duffle bag (that really think/tough material) that you could somehow clasp at the top and lock it to a tree. Yeah, someone could cut through it, but they couldn’t just grab it and run (and they’d have to work at it).

What I found was the “PacSafe DaySafe 100 Security Backpack“, it’s two things in one. The first is a backpack made for security, the zippers can be latched so someone can’t easily open it while you’re just walking down the street (the latches are hidden and hard to get to) and like a lot of luggage and you can (optionally) lock the zippers. Part of the main bag is slash-proof, it’s got a metal screen in the material, so someone can’t cut it to get stuff out while you’re wearing it. Plus, one of the straps is detachable and latchable so while you’re sitting there someone can’t just grab your bag if you’ve attached it to the table you’re eating at (this doesn’t work if you leave it unattended). It’s also got a few other areas that they have to make it harder for someone to casually grab things from it. It pretty much looks like a regular backpack.

ExomeshinsertThe second is a DaySafe (they sell this as a separate product) the DaySafe is pretty much a small tote bag (17 liters) made completely out of the material with the steel built into it (eXomesh®). The drawstring is a metal cable that latches and locks (included) and is pretty secure. If you take the cable and wrap it around a tree (or a stationary object in your hotel room or rental car) before you lock it, it becomes pretty hard for someone to just grab your stuff and run.

The safe fits inside the backpack perfectly and there is a special spot (hole) for the cable to secure the backpack too (the stuff in outer pockets would be at risk). I do have a smaller backpack that this fits into that is perfect for just running around like that, the included backpack is pretty big for a casual hike/walk.

I wouldn’t leave my stuff locked to a tree all day but for the bit that I want to go in the water and stay mostly in sight of it it’s perfect.. Or if I hike up into the hills to the waterfall, I can both take pictures and then go for a swim and not be too paranoid about my stuff. So I’m kind excited about this one, since I don’t have to limit what I take when I wander far…

Written By: Gary on December 1, 2007 One Comment

So I hear it’s cold back in Michigan! I’m glad I’m getting my money’s worth from this vacation. I had to explain to a local it was freezing and he didn’t get I literally meant freezing until I clarified with “zero degrees Celsius”.

It’s definitely getting cooler on some of the evenings. I was actually chilly down on the beach last night.

I can’t believe it’s Saturday already.

I wandered down to the Ylang Ylang resort to use their internet, they have the best in the area. I”m in a hammock in the dark posting the old stuff and typing this short post. It’s not as comfy as it sounds.

It’s really humid this evening.

I think I’m staying in Montezuma (or at least this peninsula) for the rest of the trip.

Written By: Gary on December 1, 2007 No Comment

The time you see on these posts aren’t necessarily when posted them. The time is closer to when I wrote them. Whenever I finally get access to the internet I can post them and they retain the original dates.

This also might get confusing since I may have typed something and not posted it but when I’m out and see an internet cafe and post something new. Then later I might actually get around to connecting my computer and posting the older note. So you might miss something, sorry about that but I generally try to keep them chronological to when I wrote them.

For example (actually, specifically), I wrote the entries about arriving in Montezuma and the phones yesterday but didn’t have a way to post them. Then I wandered by an internet cafe to check mail but it was SO slow I posted the slow internet message and left. But today I have reasonable access so I’m posting all the entries I wrote yesterday (and the photos) but they’ll appear before the slow internet message so you may miss them…

You better go find it since it does link to more photos!

Written By: Gary on November 30, 2007 No Comment

It’s unbearably slow so this is all that I am posting at this time :(

Written By: Gary on November 30, 2007 One Comment

Today was just a travel day. Packing, travel, checking in, unpacking, eating and picking up supplies. I’m in the same room as last time I was at the El Sano Banano, it’s the place with the awesome air conditioning. Here’s a street map of Montezuma, the map is kind big, but you can see most of the stuff is in the middle. Sometimes they spell Montezuma as Moctezuma, so I switch it around a bit too (mostly for the search engines).

It’s evening now and nice and cool out. I’m getting dinner (at L’angolo Allegro), some homemade pasta (no meat, I accidentally picked a vegetarian place), bread and a glass bottle of Fresca. It was very nicely presented, I should have taken a photo.

This is the town where they do the fire show (dancing and breathing) in the streets so I’m hoping for a show one of the next few nights. Tomorrow morning there is some kind of market (Saturday) that I want to check out before I hike up to the waterfall.

I’ve got some more photos posted (see set 3 for the latest), They’ve even (mostly) got titles and captions.

I have no idea when I’m actually going to get this entry and the photos posted. ‘Net access around here stinks and while internet cafes are abundent, no one seems to have high speed (that would be some kind of satellite hookup).

Written By: Gary on November 30, 2007 No Comment

I finally got the phones in Costa Rica to work again. I’m sure they worked before I just couldn’t get them to work last trip. The trick is to get to an AT&T operator, or at least that’s what I wanted since my calling card is AT&T. So from a phone you just dial

0-800-011-4114

and that gets you an AT&T tone/message and you can dial your 1-800 number that’s on your calling card. Now these are the same notes I had scratched onto my card so I’m not sure if I misread them last time or the new pay phones they put in work more like the much older ones.

Now in the past (when it worked) it always used my minutes conservatively, it said it would use my cards at a 12 to 1 ratio (a 60 minute card would last 5 minutes) but it lasted much longer in the past. Not this time, I only got my 5 minutes that I had on that card (I got the cars from Sam’s Club).

Actually, I only got this to work in Jaco, I tried in Montezuma but no success (yet). I bet they want me to put money in the pay phone, but I’m not certain. Whatever it is, it’s probably the same problem I had last time.

Written By: Gary on November 30, 2007 No Comment

I made it to Moctezuma. The taxi boat was much nicer than the last time.

I met two american surfers from opposite directions heading to the same destination (Snata Teresa). They were fun to chat with and made a beautiful ride even more fun.

I’m staying at the El Sano Banano, I got all settled into my room and ate already. I made a mad dash to their sister resort, Ylang Ylang, but I was too late to catch the Monkeys do their daily swing down the beach :(

Although I am taking advantage of their free Internet to give you this update…

Written By: Gary on November 30, 2007 No Comment

Cr Montezuma Jaco Water-TaxiSo I’m off to Montezuma this morning. You can see the ride by car would take forever. The water taxi, pretty much some guy on a boat that’ll hold about 8-10 people/luggage, will take about an hour. If experience holds, it’ll take longer since it’ll be way late. I sure hope it doesn’t rain…

I’ll be at the El Sano Banano, it’s a little hotel (in a little town), but I have access to their resort way down the beach. I’d consider staying down there but there is no A/C in their cabanas.

That’s all for now I’ve gotta shower and finish packing and get a taxi to get me to the water taxi (it’s actually at the next town north).

Written By: Gary on November 29, 2007 2 Comments

Sunset2007-11-29 18-14-01.Img 7041I don’t even have enough time to cover everything I did today. I mostly ate, slept and wandered all over the place. I also made my plans for tomorrow (which you’ll hear later).

Weather wise, it was an awesome day. Sunny, the humidity was down (or I’m used to it), the sunset was awesome. The weather stunk in Michigan, thus that makes the exchange rate for the money worth even more to me :)

The sunset was awesome, the previous few days were no comparison! This is one of my favorite sunset photos from today.

I’ve also got a second album uploaded (be sure to pick “Set 2″).

Written By: Gary on November 29, 2007 One Comment

So if you want to see specifically where I am you can go to the Google Map, that’s my hotel in Jaco, dead center (actually, it looks like it might be before the renovations but that’s it.

If you click the minus sign (“-”) on the scale on the left you can zoom out. After about 4 clicks you can see the whole Jaco Beach coast. After about 5 more clicks you can see the Nicoya Peninsula (where I’ll be heading via water taxi). A few more and you can see the whole country. Another 4 or 5 more and you can see Costa Rica with a good chunk of North and South America. Jaco should stay in (near) the center as you zoom out.

Written By: Gary on November 29, 2007 One Comment

So a few weeks before I left I subscribed to the TicoTimes. It’s a weekly English nation-wide newspaper about the size of Metro Times or a magazine from the Sunday section of a newspaper that comes out on Fridays in Costa Rica. A month’s subscription included the ability to download the PDF file every week. It’s a little hard to read on the screen, I think I get one more electronic issue, but I’ll probably buy a copy tomorrow.

ticotimesIt was nice to get a feel for what was going on in the country. From a to do list it wasn’t very helpful to me. It comes out on Friday and the calendar generally doesn’t stretch much past the weekend. So I might go somewhere else tomorrow and I should have stayed here for something, but I’ve already made my arrangements. I did find out about some kind of air festival in the northwest but I forgot all about it, I’ll have to check on that…

From a news standpoint I did know the rainy season was dying down early, I know the colon was going to go up in value (their “Greenspan” changed something), that the phone company might go on strike (they didn’t) and a few other things. It’s definitely worth the $8 to get the four issues on-line if you’re considering traveling the country. I recommend this for anywhere, I’ve gone to the bookstore and picked up a newspaper for London, England to get an idea of what’s going on there too (you might have to reserve these in advance).

Written By: Gary on November 28, 2007 One Comment

So I ran all over today. I went swimming in the pacific and then packed up my backpack and headed north (actually north west I think). Took all sorts of pictures and a little video.

Map Of Costa Rica JacoAte lunch at a nice place on the beach, the name escapes me for now. Some people sat down at a table next to me and it turns out it was a guy from Traverse City, Michigan! What are the odds? He comes down a few times a year to vacation, seems to really like to eat and stay at that place (although they were booked up). I actually started talking to them because they liked the place they stayed at we chatted for a while.

I swam some more and then rented a scooter (moped). It was a bargain at 6 hours for $25 but they closed in 4 hours and I didn’t want to be responsible for it overnight so I gave him $20 for 4 hours. It was a new scooter too, the temporary plates were just a few days old. I buzzed around all over the area, lots of development going on. Riding is nice and cool compared to walking around :)

I’ve decided to stay another day in Jaco. I’ll leave on Friday for somewhere or another…

I can see I got some sun today. Since I was wearing a backpack for a chunk of the day it looks like I was wearing a bikini top. Hopefully, that’ll even out in a few days!

Weather report – It was cloudy on and off all day, but still very bright and very hot (maybe more humid than hot. That was okay except for when it came time for the sun to set, way too many clouds. RIght now as I’m writing this it’s almost cool, but still way humid. High of 82 for tomorrow!

I’ve got some photos up on-line too.

Image courtesy of the CIA World Fact Book.

Written By: Gary on November 28, 2007 No Comment

TabaconThese Chicken Nachos are delicious! I’m at the Restaurante Tabacon in Jaco, it’s right across the street from Planet Food (closed for years but still a landmark for giving directions). They come with everything, including sour creme, beans and guacamole (I did not get the latter two). It’s a huge bowl for 3,000 colons ($6), it’s not a appetizer, it’s a meal.

I think I really enjoyed my food lat time here too. They used to be a pizza parlor and I think that was really good too, if I recall back 3-4 years correctly…

Other details:

  • Free WiFi.
  • The cool paper lanterns that I’ve only seen in Montezuma before.
  • Pepsi products
  • Their drinks are never cold enough. I recall this from before.
  • They have Smirnoff Ice in a bottle, it’s hard to fine at home, but very common in Jaco.
  • Written By: Gary on November 28, 2007 2 Comments

    BalcondelmareveningI was SO tired yesterday. I think I managed to sleep at least 10 hours, it might have been more, but I’m sure I went to sleep at least that early. I get confused since I wasn’t sure about the time change and all I kept seeing were my Michigan clocks (it is one hour earlier here than the Detroit Michigan area).

    I almost missed breakfast but I get down there a few minutes before they were supposed to close. It’s a beautiful morning nice and sunny and I’m heading down to the beach in a few. This is the view from my hotel room yesterday evening before sunset, it’s a little dark but you can see the Pacific ocean is right there and it’s a great location!

    Written By: Gary on November 28, 2007 One Comment

    We’re past rainy season by a few weeks, and even more since they (the gov’t?) called off the warnings that come with it a few weeks earlier. But I keep seeing thunderstorms in the forecast. I’m only here 4 weeks earlier than last time. Is this really going to be an issue?

    The first time I was in Costa Rica was in April of 1999, it rained a lot of the days for 15-30 minutes (maybe a little longer) but I don’t remember much more than that. After all, a chunk of the place is the rain forest there must be some rain, right?

    It did drizzle on and off (mostly off) yesterday and you could see the very dark clouds inland but not here. Sometime after dark it really poured for a while, but this morning is beautiful. Hopefully the rest of the week goes the same….

    Written By: Gary on November 27, 2007 3 Comments

    JacoarrivalI made it!!! It was a bit of a trip, and a ride through the mountains but I made it! I got some ca$h from the ATM and some dinner and some stuff for the fridge (coke, gaterade, water and OJ) and I think I might be hitting the sack soon….

    Here’s the view if you walk outside (about 50 meters) the hotel, I took it right after I checked in. I’ll try to take more pictures and post more tomorrow…

    Written By: Gary on November 27, 2007 No Comment

    So for the second leg I didn’t get an aisle seat, but no one sat in the middle seat so I had lots of room. I got to watch the clouds for a while, but they weren’t as smooth and flat where they look solid, just lots of lumpy fluffy ones.

    I think airline food has gotten better the last few years, my chicken and rice was delicious and even the carrots were good. I got to read a little bit, a sci-fi paperback called Manifold Time by Stephen Baxter, I’m liking it so far but I’m not very far into it. I plan to leave it behind and I forgot my BookCrossing labels.

    The Atlanta airport was nice, I don’t think I’ve ever been there when I wasn’t running for a connecting flight. We got in early so I had some time to look around (and get my last McDonald’s food for a while). I even had time to switch my seat (from a middle one) and to sign up for frequent flyer miles, I couldn’t find my Delta number anywhere, and they made it sound like I could claim old miles too and I know where my last ticket is (when I flew to NY via Atlanta).

    Also, last night was Monday, my big TV night, so I threw a few of those shows in my laptop and got to watch Chuck and Journeyman. That really makes the time go by…

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    Written By: Gary on November 27, 2007 No Comment

    So while I’m never thrilled to get up at 4 am, it’ll be nice to arrive at my destination in the early afternoon. But the best part is that right now we’re up above the clouds and the sky is all orange in the distance.

    I used to love looking at the clouds when I flew and thought I’d never tire of them. These days of bringing all my stuff on the flight to entertain myself, getting an aisle seat generally outweighs the window option.

    So the clouds all look like now or water out thee, i’d love to skydive through it sometime to just see how it feels, it all looks so solid. It’s such a bright orange and red and pink off in the distance and the lights kinda coming from below it almost looks as if the slow in the distance is on fire.

    Later – It’s mostly up now, but there’s still this burning orange in the distance and the color of the clouds has this icy blue look to it in the light. Out the opposite side of the plane it still looks dark and you can see the cities lit up.

    More later – Now it’s got that normal icy/snowy look to it that I’m used to seeing when I fly at a reasonable hour :)

    Written By: Gary on November 17, 2007 One Comment

    Colon-Trend-TenyearSo the exchange rates are pretty good for people from the US traveling to Costa Rica these days. You can see from the graph it’s been going up ever since my first trip in 1999, prices have gone up there too, especially costs for tourist type things, but it’s still been a decent value. Especially when you compare it to Britain or Canadian exchange rates, where the dollar has considerably dropped in value lately. It hasn’t really changed much since my last trip but it should be pretty good for my next one, it’s about 520 to $1.00 today.

    Current Rates
    $1.00 (US) = CRC
    1000 CRC = $ USD
    Currency data courtesy coinmill.com

    More info on The exchange rate, some from Wikipedia (currency photos) and from Vacation City (currency photos).

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