A Travellerspoint blog

NORTH TO ALASKA

SAILING NORTH FROM VANCOUVER

overcast 18 °C

After cruising over the Straits of Georgia on the BC Ferries to Vancouver, we gather our luggage and board the "Zaandam" for our week trip to Alaska and back. Not knowing how cold it may be we were overloaded with clothing for every type of weather, plus outfits of both casual and formal attire.

Setting sail at 5PM, we slowly travelled through Vancouver's beautiful harbour. Here is Helen leaving Canada Place.

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Keith enjoys the view of West Vancouver from our balcony.

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We enjoy a sail-away buffet on the Lido Deck.

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AFTER ONE DAY SAILING WE REACH JUNEAU, THE CAPITAL OF ALASKA

Juneau is a product of Alaska's golden past when gold was discovered there in 1880. This Capital city is the largest city we visited but just a larger version of the others. It is completely inaccessible by road and is wedged at the foot of the Coastal mountain range.

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The Mendenhall Glacier with its ice face dipping down into Mendenhall Lake is located about half an hour out of Juneau. It is 12 miles long and 1 1/2 miles wide and is reported to be the most viewed glacier in the world.

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OUR NEXT STOP, SKAGWAY

Skagway served as the jumping off point for the tidal wave of prospectors who arrived in 1897 heading for the Yukon gold rush. The aboriginal name is Skagua, which means "home of the north wind", which in our opinion they got that right. The town now is protected as a National Historic Site. There were many examples of Russian influences ranging from the architecture to the many trinkets for sale in the town.

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GLASS BLOWING IN SKAGWAY

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TRACY ARM

=====A DAY OF CRUISING==

This was a perfect (except for the weather) day of cruising up Tracy Arm. This long fjord is dramatic with sheer mountain walls rising a mile high
straight from the water and are cut by cascading water falls. The Sawyer Glacier was calved while we were there, creating new ice bergs which constantly pinged and banged against the ship while we were there.

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KETCHIKAN------OUR LAST STOP

This small town is another one without a land way out. Its claim to fame is that it is one of the soggiest towns in Alaska with an annual rainfall of between 160 and 200 inches a year. It also calls itself the salmon capital of the world. Other Canadian cities also make this claim.

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The centre piece is Creek Street, a row of wooden houses built on pilings along a salmon creek. Up until the mid 1950's it was the local red light district with more than 30 brothels. Today the houses all are filled with the inevitable tourist souvenirs.

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HOMEWARD BOUND

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NOW, IT'S TIME TO PACK FOR MEXICO

Posted by keithandhelen 09.09.2014 15:46 Archived in USA Comments (0)

KEEPING BUSY IN PLAYA DEL CARMEN

sunny 34 °C

The time here has neared an end for the time being. The months have passed by very quickly and you may wonder what we do from day to day.
Well.........................................................................................................................

Very often you find us looking like this.

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Helen and her friend Carole begin to take painting classes. Please notice the studio decorations, it becomes a restaurant in the evening. Neither of them were tempted to eat there.

Helen and Carole get started

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Natasha , the teacher from Germany, encourages the artists

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Helen finishes her first painting and readies it for the show-----date to be announced

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Our friends Jim and Sheila come for a visit and we go out for dinner. Notice the "aquarium" behind them

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Then Jim cooks a delicious dinner at our casa.

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CARNIVAL 2014.

Once again this year we take in the Carnival Parade (better known as Mardi Gras) and all the many other activities.

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Going out for dinner is a regular activity here. The food is relatively inexpensive and delicious. On this occasion we celebrated my birthday with our friends, Eduardo and Diana and baby Erick.

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The Park across the street from us is tended by all the neighbours. Here Helen is found raking leaves.

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Our garden is showing off now.

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Soon we return home to Springtime in Victoria. We will be doing all the above minus the beach (I hope there are some good girls to dance with in the 24th of May parade).

Posted by keithandhelen 17:42 Archived in Mexico Comments (3)

A SNAPSHOT OF OUR MEXICO 2014

sunny 31 °C

This year we have been very busy in our new home in Playa del Carmen. We finished some renovations and generally busied ourselves with the small details that always pop up and started to relax and enjoy our fix ups. It is really now OUR HOME.

Construction of our (upper) deck

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The professional painters in action

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Our new deck is now in use

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After arriving back here in January we had a new baby that was born to our friends Eduardo and Diana to welcome. His name is Erick and he won over all our hearts.

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Helen's brother, Don and sister in law, Kirsten came for a Visit

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A Trip to Tulum--------a nearby Mayan site, unique as it is situated overlooking the ocean.

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We make some new friends

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And of course, there is always a market These hangings are typical of this area.

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And before they leave, Don and Kirsten take us all out for dinner.

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Stayed tuned, more of our daily life to come.

Posted by keithandhelen 15:25 Archived in Mexico Comments (1)

CELEBRATING THE DAY OF THE DEAD

semi-overcast 30 °C

Colour, art, family, humour, death and tradition. This strange, yet beautiful, combination of elements has made Day of the Dead a rare and amazing holiday throughout Mexico. Across the country, Mexicans honour their deceased family members with elaborate homemade altars as markets fill up with colourful candies, vibrant flowers and everything else needed to remember those who have passed away.

The 5 day celebration starts with the honouring of deceased children.

A Children's' Parade winds it way through the main street. Children, all dressed up, many as skeletons and many holding skeletons, they chant as they walk.

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Stores are decorated and people buy typical decorations such as skulls and skeletons. which go to decorate the shrines in their homes and businesses. The shrines also include photographs of the dead relatives, their favorite food and drink and personal mementoes. Marigolds seem to be the traditional flower and they appear everywhere.

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We spent the 30th of October at XCARET, an ecological park. For four days there is an enormous celebration consisting of huge displays and entertainment. Of course, traditional food outlets are everywhere. We got into the spirit of the occasion. We were also featured on the Parks Twitter page

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Painting faces seemed to be part of the festivities

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Unfortunately you have to paint your own face.

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Pirates are also a big part of this

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and pirate skeletons even more so.

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You must recognize this famous pirate

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Everyone seems to be involved, including The National Graffiti Union.

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Having a bite to eat. We had special Day Of The Dead food prepared in the traditional Mayan style. We don't think they prepare it this way very often any more as it was quite burnt.

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We visit the model graveyard at Xcaret. Headstones often reflect the occupation and character of the deceased. This graveyard was decorated in the typical fashion. It is a model of what you would see in graveyards all over Mexico at this time.

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We end the evening at the Candle Walk, lighting candles for loved ones who have passed away. You will notice that after talking us into painting our faces, our friends Eduardo and Diana refused to do theirs.

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Posted by keithandhelen 14:44 Archived in Mexico Comments (1)

BY POPULAR DEMAND------------OUR HOUSE IN MEXICO

SITUATED IN THE AREA OF SANTA FE IN THE CITY OF PLAYA DEL CARMEN

sunny 34 °C

After receiving many requests to show an updated version of our new house, we have given in to the huge demand. Well, at least three people asked us. I know everyone else will be as fascinated as those three will be. Firstly, we have not quite finished furnishing. We still have to get a clothes washer, a few mirrors, and some side tables. I am also contemplating getting a TV for our bedroom. We have bought some art, but still would like more.

THE BACKYARD.
Small as it is, it is still a great place to sit. We have had a small garden built in front of the wall and have started planting. As you can see, it is still a work in progress.

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THE FRONT AND AROUND

THE GARAGE WITH OUR NEW CAR

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THE ENTRY AREA
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THERE IS A PARK ACROSS THE STREET
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THE FRONT ROOM
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THE DINING ROOM
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THE KITCHEN

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THE MASTER BEDROOM

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THE GUEST BEDROOM

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A RENOVATION IN THE UPSTAIRS PATIO IS STARTED

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THANKSGIVING DINNER---WE CELEBRATE WITH OUR FRIENDS EDUARDO AND DIANA

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AND WE END WITH

HELEN IN THE ACTIVITIES ROOM WITH HER LATEST PROJECT

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Posted by keithandhelen 14:46 Archived in Mexico Comments (2)

BACK IN MEXICO ----SEPT 2013

TRIP TO TOLUCA

overcast 16 °C

After arriving back in Playa del Carmen at our new home, we immediately left for Toluca with our friends Eduardo and Diana. They are expecting their first child in January and Diana was anxious to go to her home town to visit her mother and other family members. Toluca is about a 2 hour flight from Cancun and is the highest city in Mexico. Keith arrived with a little cold in his chest and came down with altitude sickness. The first place he stayed was a little unexpected----a 4 day visit.

Centro Medico de Toluca
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Having made lots of friends, Keith says adios
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METEPEC, A SUBURB OF TOLUCA-------TRAVELLING THE STREETS

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We bought a picture for our house here
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IN THE COUNTRYSIDE--------ON THE WAY TO DIANA's HOMETOWN

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SANTIAGO

This city is higher than Toluca. It was very cold there. Notice the extra clothing that everyone is wearing.

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The Town Hall is getting all decorated to celebrate Independence Day
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At the centre of the town is a very beautiful church . In this church all that glitters is really Gold. Notice the wedding taking place
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A very reluctant late comer to the wedding
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A fruit stall near the city centre. We bought some delicious mangoes
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This city (and surrounding area) was a centre for the production of wool garments. They were extremely beautiful, well-made and inexpensive.
This lady hand knitted all her goods on this special hand loom.
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A family luncheon
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BACK IN TOLUCA-------WE VISIT THE BOTANICAL GARDENS

A vision in stained glass, this strikingly large heritage building anchors one side of the main city square. This area itself is extremely beautiful and full of history. A free trolley runs hourly around the centre of the city. We entered the gardens only to be astounded by its beauty. Inside the sunlight was filtered through the stained glass, casting it in a golden glow.

Entrance to the Gardens
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Eduardo and Keith wait for the others to get organized
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Diana and her Mother
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Here is the whole Gang
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Helen and Eduardo have a break
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The tree was a gift from Canada
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Nice picture when you turn it sideways
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Diana has a surprise Baby Shower
The men were also invited

Playing baby shower games
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Diana opens presents. These were bibs from our friend Lorelei.
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The games in progress
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The men also play the games
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A group picture
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NOW, BACK TO PLAYA DEL CARMEN AND OUR NEW HOUSE

Posted by keithandhelen 09.10.2013 17:18 Archived in Mexico Comments (1)

PLAYA DEL CARMEN------LIVING ONE DAY AT A TIME

sunny 27 °C

Life here is not just one day at the beach (or pool) after another. We have to get involved in some normal routines like buying food, washing clothes, and general day to day chores. However no matter how mundane things may appear, they always take on a more colourful nature. The following is just bits and bites of how we live.

Monday is wash day

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Buy some fish for dinner

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Go and get some fruit

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Maybe it is time for a cold beer?

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get your hair cut here

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or where Helen gets hers done with Gaston, her Argentinian man.

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Buy some new glasses

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go to a very crowded movie

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people watching in Playa del Carmen is a favorite pastime for everyone and everything

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we even have wildlife across from our condo, causing quite a stir

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buy more jewellery

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there is always a little market

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and cute little girls

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and then, finish the day with a cup of coffee

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Our 9 weeks in Mexico end in a couple of days and we will be home and happy to see everyone again.

Sometimes it does rain here.

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Posted by keithandhelen 16:03 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

SURPRISE-------WE BOUGHT A HOUSE

sunny 26 °C

Much to our surprise, and probably even more to our friends and family, we bought a house. We decided that we really love being here and that why not be adventurous in our old age. Lets do something exciting and give us something more to do in our spare time. So, here we are trying to come to grips with the implications of what has just happened. Have a look at our 2 storey, 3 bedroom house. By the way, this house is located in a residential area, not the tourist zone.

Taken from the park across the street.

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Entrance area

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where to park the car if we ever get one.

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Living and Dining Rooms

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Negotiating at the breakfast bar

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taken from the upstairs, looking over the backyard

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view from the upstairs patio

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Closing of this house is the end of April. We will be home at the end of next week.

Posted by keithandhelen 11:32 Archived in Mexico Comments (3)

CELUSTUN---THIS PLACE IS REALLY IN THE PINK

sunny 36 °C

Located on the Gulf of Mexico and about 2 hours south west of Merida, Celestun is the home of the winter feeding of the Yucatan's 35,000 pink Flamingos. This must be one of the world's magnificent birds sights. Standing in an enormous lagoon, these beautiful birds can be seen as far as the eyes can see. There is nothing more to say as the pictures will speak for themselves. However, look closely at the horizon and notice the pink hue that covers the waters.

We are off to see the Flamingos

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Entering the lagoon surrounded on 2 sides by the mangrove swamps

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See the gray flamingos in the foreground, they are the young ones, it takes about 5 years to become an adult, with the bright feathers.
This group of children are like a kindergarten class and one old adult is given the responsibility to watch them and to teach them all the flamingo tricks of life.

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A SIDE TRIP THROUGH THE MANGROVES ON OUR RETURN

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The trip ends up at a cenote, however no one could swim as there was a visitor lying on the side.

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Now, a long ride back to Playa del Carmen.

Posted by keithandhelen 07:43 Archived in Mexico Comments (1)

AN EXCURSION TO EDZNA

semi-overcast 38 °C

About an hours drive from Campeche, the ancient Mayan site of Edzna suddenly appears in the jungle. Occupied from about 600 BC to 1500 AD it went through many reconstructions and additions over the centuries. Evidence shows that about 70,000 people lived here during the period of 600 to 900 AD. Early on in its history the marshy valley where Edzna was situated was transformed by a drainage system of canals, reservoirs and aqueducts into terraced agricultural land to support the population. Handily located on major trade routes between the coast and the Mayan highlands, Edzna ruled the region in its early days.

Most of the current site dates from about 700 to 900 AD.

The only people at the site were ourselves and a group of grade 4 students scampering up and down the ruins leaving us to plod up them one giant step at a time.

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The kids pretending to be sacrifices on the old sacrificial altar

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Helen conducts an English lesson.

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OH NO! We have realized that we now have to go down all the steps.

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On the return trip we stop at HACIENDA UAYAMON. It is far in the bush and was founded as a cattle ranch in the 16th century, its lands were raided by pirates in the 17th century and it reached its height in the 19th century when its production of sugar, sisal, and logging made it one of the largest and wealthiest haciendas in the country. It is now a hotel and judging by its prices it is still one of the wealthiest.

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Tomorrow we go to Celestun to see the Flamingos

Posted by keithandhelen 07:35 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

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