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Old 03-21-2010, 05:50 PM   #61
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Originally Posted by miguelito
I was looking at Craigslist last night for places for rent in Ciudad Oaxaca and San Cristobal and saw some similar prices for 2 and 3 BR houses.
That is to say I: saw some similar prices for 2 and 3 BR houses currently listed here in P.E.
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Old 03-21-2010, 06:02 PM   #62
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Cool ! Thanks for the info. I don't see myself down there anytime soon but eventually I will get there. Enjoying your RR keep up the good work.
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Old 03-30-2010, 02:12 PM   #63
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Puerto Escondido to Tehuantepec

The ride south from P.E. was fun with lots of twists and turns, and beautiful beach views. I side tracked down to Zipolito and Puerto Angel, and then back to the main road.

I made a quick tour of Huatalco, saw mostly a bunch of luxury hotels and golf courses, and continued on my way to a quick stop in the industrial port town of Salinas Cruz, before heading up to Tehuantepec. Got a room for about $18/night at the Hotel Oasis, the first one you see as you enter el centro.

The views around Zipolite








Puerto Angel





Salinas Cruz





Street scene in Tehuantepic





The courtyard of the Hotel Oasis





The plaza mercado after dark





Tacos for dinner




What some of the tacos were made from. Is my dinner grinning or grimacing at me? The other tacos were squid. They were all very good.


More to come...



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Old 03-30-2010, 02:38 PM   #64
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We Must All Be Zapatistas on This Bus, + Mi y Julio Down at down at the schoolyard

In which the author rejects the advances of a gay man half his age, hangs out with Zapatistas, and speaks to a secondary school English class.





Having fled the coast, and heading for some cooler mountain climes, my first overnight is in Tehuantepec. It felt good to be somewhere where the joints werenít crawling with elites + hipsters, be they Mexicans or Americans.

So I find myself in the company of the pool hall/cervezeria manager, Gil and weíre teaching each other drips and drabs of each otherís language.



The pool hall



He asks me if Iím hungry and invites me down the street to another place, which serves real food. It turns out itís his Grandmotherís place, and he introduces me to Constanza as we pass her in the street. We join his aunt Jovina and his friend Jorge at their table and proceed to drink a lot of beer. Gil orders food, and although Iím not hungry, itís very good. We enjoy a lively conversation, during which it becomes apparent that Gil is gay. Heís fondling of my knee at the table now, confirming his sexual orientation. Iím almost twice this kidís age, Iím not gay, and I donít know whether to be confused or flattered by his attention. I know one thing, and that is that no matter what his age, heís just not doing it for me sexually. Iím thinking young Gilberto is gonna be disappointed tonight.



Jorge, Jovina, and the lovelorn Gil.



But weíve had quite a lot of beer tonight, and as I turn from the urinal to return to our table, thereís Gil just inside the doorway of the bano. I smile and make to move past him, and he moves in front of me and plants a kiss. What do you say? I ended up deflecting the kiss, and giving him a hug, to hopefully let him know heís OK, and not take the impending letdown too hard. Iím gonna try and let him down softly. Later when he returns to the table, I tell him privately, that I enjoy his company, but am not interested in anything more than a simple platonic friendship. He says that he understands. He calls for the bill from Vicky, an attractive Oaxaquena, who Iíve all ready had a flirtation with, much to Gilís consternation. At the time of the flirtation, he felt compelled to ask me whether I liked her better than him. I told him then that having only just met both of them, it was hard to say. When she returns with the bill he is abusive to her, and I can see how it is for those in economic servitude to the elites even here in this decidedly un-touristy town as she stands silently by and takes his abuse.

I can also see that Gil might be kinda crushed by being rejected by an overweight man twice his age, but thatís his lot in life for this evening at least.

He suggests that we go back to the pool hall, and I agree to join them.

Iím put off when Iím informed that Iím expected to buy dinner and drinks for all four of us. You see a lot of this kind of scamming here in Mexico, but I canít help but feel that Gilbertoís rejection by me has fueled this blatant manipulation. Itís not that bad, though, because the total bill amounts to about $29 US dollars, so I pull what cash I have from my pocket, (slight diversion into a travel tip here: I never bring all my money or wallet with me when I go out on the town in a place Iím unfamiliar with), which amounts to about $25, and toss it on the table, and hold my hands up saying that itís all I have. Tia Jovina, launches right into an explanation as to how I can get more from the cash machine in town, which I assure her I can, even If I have no intention of doing so. I tell them Iíll return to my hotel for some money and then return to the pool hall.

Having retrieved about $40 dollars from my wallet back at the hotel, I take a circuitous route back to Gilís Grammaís place and go inside where I give Vicky a tip of 200 pesos, or about $16, and probably equivalent to as much as she might make in a day serving tables. Sheís confused at first, as to whether I think I owe more than the 300 pesos Iíve all ready paid for all four of our meals and beers, but when I tell her it is just for her, she embraces me, (very cool, ), and I bid her goodnight as I head up the street to the pool hall.

When I enter, Iím grilled by Jovina and Gil as to why I returned to his grammaís restaurant, but I only smiled and ordered a liter of beer for the table. Iím sure Gil will hear later how I returned and left a ridiculously generous tip for Vicky, and it kinda pleases me to think that it will piss him off as much as it pleased Vicky. Eventually Jovina says sheís leaving, but she needs some money to get something to eat first. I just stare at her. This chick has been chowing down, and drinking beer for the last two hours at my expense and I tell her, ďNo esta mi problemaĒ. Disappointed, she eventually leaves and Gil asks if I want to shoot pool. I accede, and his barkeep racks the balls for us. He not good at game, but I end up setting him up on the last ball, and as heís nowhere to be seen, I exit the pool hall and walk up to the plaza.

Eventually, I stop into a little cervezeria, and join a group of locals at the bar. They start out skeptical of me and what Iím doing here in their little town, but after a half hour Iíve gained four new friends. The talk turns to politics, and Iím told in a roundabout way that they are Zapatistas, the political and revolutionary group that essentially declared war on the state of Mexico in 1994, capturing 4 towns in Chiapas and the federal offices located in them before the Mexican government responded and re-established dominance. The group is primarily concerned with establishing rights and eliminating abuses done to indigenous Mexicans. They were particularly opposed to the establishment of NAFTA in the early 1990s which they saw as a policy which would further enslave los indios above and beyond their all ready impoverished conditions.



When I wax eloquent, regardless of my broken Spanish, about the pedejo we recently replaced as our presidente, , my standing in this small band grows by leaps and bounds. Some of the local street art:






Eventually Rudolfo, the owner of the bar wants to close up, so someone suggests that we adjourn to the pool hall around the corner. I just laugh and nod my assent, shaking my head as I consider the twists and turns this alcohol-fueled evening has taken.

When we enter the pool hall, weíre served a liter of Corona Familiar, (a family sized bottle), and we pour drinks and toasts are made. At one point the waitress from Grammaís place is outside and smiles and waves to the gringo. I feel good about making a point of tipping her after the abuse she took from Gil.



Eventually Gil appears and informs me that I owe him another 190 pesos for the beers he bought and the pool game he suggested. I laughed and suggested that perhaps we needed the policia to sort out such a complicated matter. At that point I had three Zapatistas toasting me and endorsing my unwillingness to submit to another fleecing. So it goes. Gil retired to his corner, defeated in his amor and his mercenary tactics all in one evening. One of my new friends, suggested that I come to the secondary school where he teaches English the next day so his students might meet an Americano and answer some questions they might have about America and myself.

It was not easy, but I managed to drag myself out of bed and take a taxi to the escuela the following morning. I started by speaking to them in their native tongue, beginning as I often do by explaining that I spoke enough Spanish to appear to be kind of stupid. I continued by telling them that the world is beset with many difficulties right now, and that we need all the ideas we can muster in order to assure we arrive at the appropriate solutions. I talked about the economic power that the US wields in the world, and how English has become the de facto common language for our world. I said that as such it is important that they and other residents of non-English speaking countries learn to speak and read as much English as they can, not so that they can serve beers to American tourists such as myself, but so that their ideas might be heard by a larger audience, and so have more impact in a world hungry for new ideas.

Some of the students seemed to hear what it was I was saying and consider the possibilities, while others were more interested in my motorcycle, how fast it goes, and how much it cost. So it goes in our world this year of 2010, when America seems poised on the brink of turning a corner or falling further into the abyss of world opinion, which can be quite harsh once we leave the comfortable circles of our friends and peers back in the US. I think I did my best as an Ambassador of good will here on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

Some more street art I found in Southern Mexico with a less political twist:



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Old 03-30-2010, 03:00 PM   #65
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Burned

It was so hot in the Tehuantepec area, I went for a ride in my shorts one day.

I met this friendly old-timer and we had a nice chat by the side of the road.




The ride might have worked out OK if I hadn't ridden back a dirt road to look at a lake where I had to ride a sandy patch.

The lake:


When I finally dumped, had my right foot wedged underneath the bike and my left calf on the motor. Ouch! We'll see how many weeks it takes for that one to heal. I'm not an ATGATT guy, but I don't think I'll ever ride on dirt again without some basic protection.
Ouch, indeed!


More shots from yhat day's ride...






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Old 03-30-2010, 03:06 PM   #66
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Tehuantepec to San Cristobal de las casas

After two nights in Tehuantepec, I left for the mountain town of San Cristobal, Chiapas. Once I left the plains the ride was not only scenic but fun. I don’t know what riding the cuota to Tuxtla Guitterez is like, but I can highly recommend taking el Libre. There was no traffic to speak of and the scenery was fantastic.




















I stopped at the Wal-Mart in Tuxtla, as it is the one place I know down here where you can count on finding Guia Roji Maps of the Mexican highways, and I still lack a good one for Oaxaca and Chiapas. After picking one up, I left for San Cristobal, and took the cuota, which was beautiful as it quickly ascends to the mountain valley where San Cristobal resides.I can feel the temperature dropping as I ascend, and even in the afternoon heat, I can almost feel the hint of a chill as I stretch out mi moto’s wings a bit and cruise at 80mph for the first time in a long while.

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Old 03-30-2010, 03:25 PM   #67
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San Cristobal de las Casas




Well this is a beautiful colonial mountain town, and there's enough chill in the air at night to wear a fleece sweater.
















I rode into town and was lucky to find a room for about $32/night at the Hotel de la Plaza del Santo Domingo, just across the street from a 400 year old church and a lively open market.



The sidewalks are paved in stone and polished from untold years of human traffic. Be careful when it's wet. I stepped in a puddle once crossing the street and nearly fell on my ass when my wet shoe hit those slick stones.



Itís Easter weekend though, and they donít have a room available for Saturday and Sunday night, so Iíll either find another room or move on. I eventually found another room at a small hotel for only about $15/night, but after two days of constantly being approached by street vendors and kids begging, I wasnít sure if I could afford to remain here much longer. I have a hard time not giving them all some money, even though I know it will do nothing long-term to improve their poverty. I merely hope it improves their day.














San Cristobal is surrounded by towns of poor Chiapanecos, and this ring is sometimes called the ďRing of MiseryĒ. People are poor in this part of Mexico. Really poor. They are mostly indigenous Mexicanos.



The Zapatistas captured 4 cities here in Chiapas in 1994, including San Cristobal, essentially declaring war on the Federal Government of Mexico, and professing their open opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement, (NAFTA), which they saw as a policy that would further enslave indigenous Mexicans, and lock economic control of the region into the exploitative hands of the rich, and powerful corporations. The movement has a strong component in support of women's rights. A lot of the street art here reflects the desire to organize a politically meaningful coalition to fight for their goals of economic well being for an oppressed minority. Perhaps one of the saddest events to occur during the ensuing conflict was the 1997 massacre of 45 pacifists belonging to the group Las Abejas, (The bees), who supported the aims if not the means of the Zapatista movement.






Their goals are primarily directed at ensuring the rights of all the various indigenous groups of Mexicans, but their political base is located mostly here in the southern part of Mexico where population pressures have been increasing as Guatemalans and other Central Americans trying to escape the overwhelming poverty of their homelands move north toward the US in search of economic opportunity.



Some street art I saw in San Cristobal



San cristobal seems to be pretty much an elite Mexican/gringo town, surrounded by indigenous Mexicans living in poverty. Iíve decided to move on to Pelenque after only two nights in this lovely town so full of economic contrasts as to be hard to comprehend.



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Old 04-01-2010, 03:13 PM   #68
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San Cristobal to Pelenque









When I got my moto out of the garage this morning, it kept stalling when I came to a stop, and I was worried about what could have possibly happened to it while just sitting for the last couple of days. I stopped on the edge of town to investigate, but found that it was now Ok. I thought about it a bit, and then recalled the oil change in Acapulco, where they used a ďtropical weightĒ oil. This being the first morning they motoís been started when there was an actual chill in the air, I figure itís just the engine bogging down with the added viscosity in the cold morning air and ride out of town.

It was a beautiful ride. If it hadnít been for all the topes it would have been a near perfect ride on a motorcycle.









I made a stop for lunch at Aguas Azul, where I got hit by the old ďdoubleĒ entrance fee. You stop on the way down and pay a toll of 10 pesos and then get stopped further on and get hit with another entrance fee. I joked with the toll guy whether he was sure there wasnít another caseta del cobro just up ahead. He assured me this was the last, and I parked my bike in the shade under a tree, and paid some of the local kids to keep an eye on it.



This town had a sign outside the dirt road entering it, stating that you were now in the free and independent Zapatista territories.




The indios along the road to pelenque, would build mud ďtopesĒ to slow traffic down so they could sell them whatever they had, be it hand woven clothing, or fresh fruit juices. It kind of freaked me out the first time I saw them also having a rope stretched out across the road, which they then raise up, like a barricade as I approached. In fact I think I actually shouted a curse at that first woman who used the technique as I was tooling along. I went on my way to Pelenque, where I made a wrong turn into el centro and found the clean Hotel Edzna for about $19/night.


The plaza at Pelenque





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Old 04-02-2010, 03:14 PM   #69
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Palenque.


I walked to a local cervezeria around the corner from the hotel, and the locals were friendly and talkative. Unfortunately, they had fleas as well as beer, and my ankles were so bitten up after one beer, I had to “flee” the premises. One of the locals told me that the fleas like us lighter skinned people, as he was too scratching his ankles as we talked. Those with more indio blood didn’t seem to be affected by them.


I eventually rode around town and found the little touristy corner and had dinner and another couple of cervezas before turning in.


The Archaeological ruins at Pelenque.

Well this is really why I came over here. I had heard these ruins were extensive and impressive and they are. There is no parking lot to speak of at the ruins themselves, so there are cars strung out along the twisting road for a half a mile before you actually reach the ruins. The beauty of a motorcycle is that you can almost always find a parking place, and I did, about 50 yards from the park’s entrance. There were numerous kids trying to get me to sign them up as a guide, but I felt like seeing the ruins without any talk. I’ll read up on them later for any background material I want. So I put my Ipod on repeat play, and fired up Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer”, a song I’m continually drawn to both here and at home, but somehow it seems a perfect accoutrement to walking these amazing Mayan ruins.



Here's the song, with a link in case the embed doesn't work, if you wanna get inside my head at the ruins of Pelenque, (if you want to complete the recreation of my experience, turn the heat in your house up to the max, put on a down coat, and wait till you're saturated in sweat):


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_m4H77z3fJE






















































From Wiki: “Unlike the Aztec and Inca Empires, there was no single Maya political center that, once overthrown, would hasten the end of collective resistance from the indigenous peoples. Instead, the conquistador forces needed to subdue the numerous independent Maya polities almost one by one, many of which kept up a fierce resistance.” I can’t help but think this may translate to at least some of the strength of the Zapatista movement in these parts as well.


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Old 04-02-2010, 08:09 PM   #70
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Las Ruinas are incredible. I had no idea they were so extensive or large. Very Cool indeed.

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Old 04-03-2010, 09:33 AM   #71
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Pelenque to Tlacoltalpan

I left Pelenque after a nightlong drizzle, the first real rain I’ve seen in the two and a half months I’ve spent in Mexico. The day was overcast and cool, so that was a welcome relief. The day was spent pretty much on the cuota, so the ride went fast, but was boring.

I’ve landed in the Spanish colonial port town of Tlacoltalpan along the banks of a river. It was an important port up into the late 19th century. Nowadays fishing and cane farming seem to be the areas main industries. It’s a beautiful town and I’m seemingly the only gringo in it at the moment.


The zocalo.





Near the zocalo.






Pink & Blue.





Twilight street scene.





The end of the malecon.






The zocalo.






Random bicycle shot.






Edificio montage.





Iglesia on the plaza.





This is the most colorful town I've visited in Mexico.





Lovely portales.




I checked into the Hotel Reforma on the plaza. When I asked about internet access, the desk clerk put me in one of two tiny rooms nearest the lobby. The room does have internet access, but it’s really small. Barely room to walk around the bed, and you have to turn sideways to get into the bathroom. It’s basically a dump. I should have tried to negotiate a better rate than the 300 pesos they’re charging me. Say-la-vee. While the hotel is conveniently located, if you’re an early to bed type, you may want to check a few other hotels in town, because just across the street are 3 or 4 bars, with loud music, and a loquacious clientele that stays up relatively late. I decided to join the locals in their nightly festivities.


Some scenes of the nightlife across the street from the Hotel Reforma




















The people here are friendly and interested in my travels in their country. It’s a cool little town, and one of my favorites on this trip. It’s been literally cooler her as well. Don’t know if there’s been a change in the weather or the nearness to the ocean is keeping it comfortable, but this is much more pleasant than any of the coastal or low lying areas I’ve visited so far.













































I’ve eaten at a couple of the restaurants down on the malecon, where the breeze is nice and the views of the river are beautiful.




Fishermen tying up their boats at the day's end. That's El Mirador Restaurant in the background, (one of my favorites).






The view from El Mirador.




One day for lunch I had two crab tostadas, (about $3), and beef enchiladas, (about $1.50). Excellente!


The enchiladas.


Unfortunately I scarfed one of the crab tostadas before I thought to take a picture. As a side note, last year I ran out of reading material pretty quickly, and I was finding it difficult to find English language books that I was interested in reading. One of the things I did differently this year was buy a Kindle electronic book to bring along, and it was a great decision. I've got about 50 books in this one little device that takes up less space than a single book. That single device has an English-Spanish dictionary, a Spanish-English dictionary, the Lonely Planet guide to Mexico, 501 Spanish Verbs, a magazine subscription, a couple of books on economics/the recent financial crash, some histories, and the rest are novels. The other cool thing about this device is that I can download more books from here or anywhere around the world that has cellular phone service.





I was finishing my dinner my first night here at El Mirador when the waiter began putting away the tables before the sun even set, and I commented that they closed the restaurant early. He explained that one downside of the waterfront restaurants is that as soon as the sun sets, the mosquitoes come out in force. I got to witness that firsthand as I finished my cerveza.




Tomorrow I leave for Ciudad Oaxaca.

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Old 04-03-2010, 09:40 AM   #72
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ironwood
Las Ruinas are incredible. I had no idea they were so extensive or large. Very Cool indeed.

Joe
Yep! I was blown away by them Joe. Well worth visiting if you happen to be in this corner of Mexico.
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Old 04-03-2010, 06:46 PM   #73
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Tlacoltalpan to Oaxaca

The ride from Tuxtepec to Ciudad Oaxaca could be Mexico’s version of the Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s about 150 Km of tight twists and turns, and the bulk of the ride I made in second and third gears.
















Unfortunately there weren’t nearly enough spots to get off the road to take a photo of the breathtaking views as you wend your way up to a high elevation mountain pass, then down to the town of Ixtapa, then up another mountain and eventually into Oaxaca.





David works for the Federal Gumint, and one of his jobs is to pick up the trash at the scenic pull-out at the top of the pass. Nice guy.





The church in Ixtapa, the only sizable town along the way. along the way.




The church in Ixtapa, the only sizable town along the way. along the way.





View from Ixtapa





The valley between the two passes you cross on rt. 175



I stopped for refreshments about 20 km from town at a roadside restaurant with speco views. You can see the tight turns from the earlier part of the trip smooth out as the road approaches the valley below.





Still life with Corona...






Got into town, and found the Hotel de Arbol which is great. Clean rooms, parking for the moto, internet and a big bathroom, all for the same price as the dumpy Hotel Reforma in Tlacoltalpan, (about $24). I did some maintenance on the bike, checked the coolant level, and topped it off and went out on the town. It’s a beautiful city. Fantastic architecture, from it’s numerous cathedrals to the Spanish colonial grand structures. You can tell the difference between the little colonial towns and the major ones not only by their size, but by the number of two story buildings. The traffic pretty much sucks in el centro here.


Ciudad Oaxaca.



Did I mention traffic sucks in el centro?




The only problem with the hotel del Arbol is that they pack the cars, (and motos), in like sardines every night, and then in the morning they start the reshuffling of them all like a rubik's cube to get everybody out on schedule. By evening this lot will be packed to the gills.









Easter week has a lot of celebrations down here...



The zocalo.





Tomorrow a visit to the Zapotec ruins at Monte Alban...

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Old 04-04-2010, 01:06 AM   #74
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Fantastic ride between San Cristobal and Palenque eh?

Thanks for the food shots too, There ain't no place outside of Mexico that can do Mexican food properly! I miss it!
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Old 04-04-2010, 06:54 PM   #75
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Monte Alban

Not much to say here other than I rode out to the Zapotec ruins and spent the day walking around this impressive archaeological site. I repeated the exercise from Pelenque and donned my Ipod and put Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer" on repeat play, as I pondered the nature of empires such as these Meso-American Indian kingdoms, and the Spanish Empire that conquered them, and how or if that relates to how we Americans, as a nation, conduct our own business in the world at large. On to the pics:























I.m leaving for points north tomorrow. Either Pueblo or Cuernavaca.
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