A Walk on Blue Friday

DSC00810Black Friday.  I understand the ‘why’ behind the name but the words Black Friday is a bit prickly sounding , and especially this year being that we are far removed from any post-Thanksgiving shopping extravaganza.  Instead of Black Friday, today will go down in history as Azule Friday.  We woke to a beautiful day in La Paz and were hopeful that the 5 day forecast would be favorable for sailing to Isla Espiritu Santo.  Isla Espiritu Santo leads us to Puerto Escondido and it happens to be popular with whale sharks (they can grow up to 60 feet and live 80-100 years).  We would so much like to see a whale shark in it’s true habitat.  With the wind forecast of 15 by this afternoon, with 20-25 knots in the bay, we discussed alternative plans and remained steadfast at being mindful of all that we are thankful for, in spite of not getting our way with the weather.

If not a sail to Isla Espiritu Santo then how about a drive to Todos Santos on the western shore of Baja?  After tacos and a few minor errands (done on foot) we went in search for a rental car for tomorrow.  For $790 pesos we found one car…maybe.  So, whether we will get to visit Todos Santos tomorrow or not, just depends on if the car gets returned on time, no one else beats us back to the counter, and the sun-moon-and tides all align.  Life is still good. Ironically this morning, it came to me that we are three months into my LOA from work.  As much as I enjoy my work, I must say that I enjoy walking with Captain Chameleon.  Besides sailing and managing to remain safe and sound, we walk.  And walk.  And walk.  Returning to work in March means we have only three more months to walk.

Just as laughing and smiling leaves untradeable marks on body, mind, and spirit, so does walking.  Just ask Carmen.  I walked past her lovely boutique, and although I was not in the market to buy clothes, I was captivated by the romantic display of resort wear with a Bohemian flair. I ventured in and began to peruse; touching the fabrics, noting price tags, and taking in the alluring scent of new merchandise.  While I could certainly justify purchasing a dress of washable linen, I couldn’t quite make the leap to squeezing another clothing item on the boat.  So instead, I was content to enjoy the shopping  without purchasing experience.  But, Carmen had me figured out and was keen on how to make a sale.

“You live on a boat, don’t you?”

“Yes, I do.  It shows, huh?”

“Yes, your feet are haggard like someone who lives on a sailboat and walks everywhere.”    This part she didn’t really say.  But, she was thinking it, correct?  How else did she know I was living on a boat?  DSC00802

What happened after this, I barely recall because I couldn’t stop looking at my feet as we walked back to the boat.  Painted nails did little to mask the telltale sign that I was on a hiatus from work.  Happy to be on an adventure but not so happy about the pitiful state of my feet.  In need of a cure, but not open to a salon, I returned to Seamore Pacific with a concoction in mind.  What is that old saying… “needing something brings out the best in us”?  Anyway, to bring this long story to a close, I mixed up a batch of boutique style foot balm.  Olive Oil, Organic Sugar, and Tea Tree Oil.  I slathered it all over the footsies, enjoyed a glass of Chardonnay, and reminisced about the past with the song, I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles).  Yes, these feet have seen a lot of miles, and  thankfully, it has been alongside special friends, family, and Captain Chameleon.

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Boutique Balm works!

I’m Gonna Be by the

Proclaimers 

What I’m thankful for this year, that I didn’t have a clue about last year:

  • A Global fix GPS Epirb (Emergency Position Indicator Radio Beacon) and the women/men who make getting rescued possible.
  • Microdyn solution that cleans our veggies.
  • A kettle to heat water for the sun shower when the sun is taking a day off.

EpirbStore bought Stuffing

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Singing Lodi

Dolphin fence

John Fogerty probably wasn’t thinking of a windy day in La Paz when he wrote “Oh! Lord I’m stuck in Lodi again.”  But the catchy phrase fits the mood of sitting out a second day of blustery winds streaming down from the north.  The blow is enough to keep us “hunkered down”, which is lingo for not going ashore.  It very much has the feel of a snow day, where everyone is shut in until the roads are cleared.  Fortunately it isn’t cold, so neighbor watching, stretched out in the cockpit is hunker down-central.  I’m watching for the first neighbor to jump in their dinghy and take to shore.  So far, only stretched anchor rode, bouncing boats, and drenched dinghies that are tethered to their mother ship like something out of a Dr. Seuss movie.  How does one go from singing Creedance Clearwater Revival music and imagining Dr. Seuss characters in a single paragraph?  Two days of hunkering down has that effect.  Watch out if this rolls into three.

Hunkered Down Day #1:  Yesterday had been reserved for shuttling diesel to the boat in color coded geri-jugs.  Fuel provisioning had began the day before and a sense of accomplishment was looming on the horizon with only one, maybe two more trips to go.  Ok, not to be.

Fuel shuttling includes positioning jugs for the 1/2 mile or so ride to shore, tying up at the dinghy dock, walking three blocks to Pemex, having sympathy shoulder pain inflicted by watching Captain Chameleon carry a 50 pound jug in each hand, stopping at the Super M for a cold drink, loading the dinghy, going back to the boat, and carefully lifting the jugs to the boat…losing them overboard would certainly foul the Captain’s cheerful nature.  Ruby couldn’t be happier because fuel shuttle equals dog walk.  Proudly sporting her yellow and red lifejacket, she garners spectacle attention from the Pemex workers.  Maybe it’s because her lifejacket matches the red and yellow geri-jugs (red for gas and yellow for diesel)?  Ok, no walk today.

It turned out to be a suitable day to prepare three square meals, wash dishes three times, make the bed, take a 2 gallon sun shower, tidy up the boat, read Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankel, and compare my shower water consumption to what I read other cruisers use.  One proud blogger has it down to 0.5 gallons of water per shower.  She showers with a bug sprayer.  No thank you, but she deserves a medal.

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Hunkered Down Day #2.  Today seems to be going like this: feeling the effects of yesterday’s three meals, minus any robust activity; consoling Ruby on the prospects of no dinghy ride to shore again today; rereading and pondering Man’s Search For Meaning; and studying basic meteorology.   Brimming with information I read in yesterday’s reading fest, not only do I waste 1.5 gallons of water showering, but I know little about weather prediction and how to forecast breaks in foul weather.  This skill will come in very handy as we journey further north and use weather windows to crossover to mainland Mexico.  Thus far what I’ve determined about forecasting the weather, is that it is very bad to ever let the words, “the wind seems to be dying down” pass from my brain to my lips.  It is a sure way to find myself facing day #3 of Hunker Down.  ” Hm. Hmm. Hmm, Oh,..stuck in ole Lodi….”

Lodi by Creedance Clearwater Revival

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Bungee tied to La Paz

Seamore Pacific off the Malecon

Seamore Pacific off the Malecon

We have been in La Paz one week.  Being a cruiser’s mecca, there are numerous reasons why we are enjoying and making good use of our stay.  However, in the last couple of days, I’ve gotten the itch to move on.  Captain Chameleon is also fine with pulling up the anchor and heading north, but he is more laidback about when we will get our affairs in order to cut the bungee cord.  We still need to top off the fuel tanks and replace some line on the Mainsheet traveler.  Both would take us less than two hours in the States but in Mexico we are without our familiar conveniences.  From where we are anchored the fuel dock is way, way down at the other end of the harbor and will require a dinghy ride with the Geri-jugs and a walk into town to the nearest Pemex, or a well thought out plan to take Seamore Pacific to the dock just when the tide and wind is conducive to smooth docking.   The current at slack tide runs about 2 knots, and then put a little wind and tide with it, and it makes getting in and out of the fuel dock a bit unpredictable.  Oh yes, and the price per gallon is much more expensive at the fuel dock.  Our friend purchased 10 gallons of diesel in Turtle Bay and it set him back $180.  Ouch.

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What might be an inconvenience becomes an opportunity to increase our physical fitness and slow down on life.  Bucking full Geri-jugs mimics a gym workout and walking to the Mercado just before I cook meat for dinner burns off whatever calories the extra cheese is going to add.  We found a modern and well stocked super grocer this week.  Working from that part of the brain we use in the States, we stocked up on fresh items, including meat; only to have most of it spoil in two days.  Between a boat refrigerator powered by solar, a walk in the heat with fresh meat, and perhaps minus some preservatives, shopping has become almost a daily event for us.  But, we love it.  It is during these walks that we observe and discover fascinating things about the people around us and have rekindled our own casual chit chatting.  No real agenda, no deadline dates for bungee cutting, and no questions about “honey, what’s for dinner?”

Close up sailorWhat we did this week when not shopping at the mercado:

  • Hanging out with Phil and Jen from S/V Alula.  One night dinner on our boat and another night, dinner on their boat.
  • Attended mass at the Cathedral de Nuestro Senora de la Paz (built in 1861)
  • Wake in time to listen to the morning Cruiser’s Net on the VHF.  It’s bit like the old days of phone operators…
  • Attended a party hosted by the city’s tourism board.  Enjoyed watching traditional Mexican folk dancing.
  • Walked the entire length of the Malecon and treated ourselves to the best nachos we have ever had in our life at the Panga Restaurant at La Marina del Palmar.
  • Found a bench to sit and enjoy my chocolate ice cream cone from Thrifty.
  • Found a bench to sit in the shade and sip on a Pacifica with Captain Chameleon during one of our long walks.
  • Found a quaint café to enjoy a cup of coffee and waffle.
  • Met new people carving out the same lifestyle that we are.

Dolphin

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Cathedral

Beach and palapa off malecon

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Part 2 & 3

deep bluePart 2. Bahia de Los Muertos.  What did I do to deserve your wrath?  Captain Chameleon and I motored into the beautiful resort cove of Bahia Los Muertos expecting a calm reprieve.  I had cast my vote to stay two days at Los Muertos since we needed to run the water maker.

Why not slow down?  Spend tomorrow making fresh water, catch up on sleep, and explore the sand dunes.  Over a candle light dinner of  meatloaf and mashed potatoes we weighed the options and came to the conclusion that the weather forecast would decide.  If the winds stayed out of the north we would stay and if they switched to the south we would leave.  Bahia Los Muertos is sheltered in north weather but wide open to south and east wind and seas.  From the weather sources we were reviewing, it showed the winds would be out of the north until Friday.  Great!  I could count on a relaxing day in paradise.  Just what I took a leave of absence from work for.

Just as I was taking my last bite of meatloaf, conditions changed.  All heck broke loose and the anchorage turned into a rocking-rolling- roller  coaster.  Glass was clanging, unsecured items were flying, and we could barely stand up.  South sea swells were upon us. Trying to make out as though this was the norm, and thinking it would be over in a half hour, Captain Chameleon and I proceeded to carry on in a normal conversation about the resilience of cruising.  He told about the time when he took his little tug boat (26 ft. Crosby Tug) up the intercostal waterway and ran into strong current and opposing wind.  At anchor, for 3 days, he laid on the floor on a sleeping bag and read, waiting out the rocking-rolling-roller coaster.

“What did you eat?”

“Whatever I could find and pop open.  It was too rough to cook.”

“What did you do for three days?”

“Read and tried to sleep.  I couldn’t stand up.  It was pretty rough.”

“Hmm.”

Trying to be encouraging, Captain Chameleon’s dug out a sleeping bag and said, “We should probably do the same now.  Lay on the floor since we can’t stand up.”

Right.  I guess this counts as “uncertain events’ in the definition of adventure.  I wish I could say that I handled the whole situation with grace.  But, after 8 hours of not being able to stand up without bruising, listening to the interior elements clash, and the boat creak as though it was going to break in half, I was over it.  OVER IT.  Enough uncertainty, unexpected hindrances and discomforts, all to see a beautiful sunrise and sunset.  Heck, I can do that from land.  But then guilt and self doubt set in.  Either I wasn’t the sea loving girl that I thought I was or Seamore Pacific wasn’t the boat I needed.  Captain Chameleon was snoring, stretched on the floor of the salon as I was devising a plan to sell Seamore Pacific once we reached La Paz.

Louder than a locomotive train, Seamore Pacific rolled and tumbled through the night as the swells teetered the boats in Los Muertos back and forth.  Mad and disgusted, the guilt of not being sea loving enough to endure it’s wrath and lay on the floor for 3 days as Captain Chameleon was prepared to do, gave way to enlightenment.  Wait a minute!  I am not going to endure rocking and rolling for 3 days and call it fun.  I came on this adventure to have some fun and this is definitely not fun.  Just because I think running 100 mile foot races is ‘fun’ doesn’t mean I would ask Captain Chameleon to do the same.  I rest my case.  We are selling Seamore Pacific once we reach La Paz and I’ll spend the rest of my leave from work having “real” fun….from a beach, or the desert, or the Midwest.

Good riddance Los Muertos!  Good ridance Meurto Bay

Part 3.  Tides, wind, and the deep blue sea.   We gladly pulled up anchor without staying one minute longer than we needed to in Los MuertosWith the notion and satisfaction to put Seamore Pacific up for sale in La Paz, new things quickly appeared off her bow: Punta Arena de la Ventura lighthouse; Isla Cerralvo where sea gyspies (Vagabundos del Mar) are buried;  and Cerralvo Channel where the south end of the Sea of Cortez opens up.  Ok.  Maybe I was over reacting about selling the boat.

Punta Arena de la Ventana.  Lighthouses have special meaning.  Captain Chameleon proposed to me at the Key West Lighthouse.

Punta Arena de la Ventana Lighthouse

Mesmerized by the water, the beauty, and the mystery of sea gypsies I was willing to give Seamore Pacific another chance.  Our third and final day into La Paz was smooth, uneventful, and mesmerizing.  Just after dropping anchor off the malecon, we met other cruisers who cursed and laughed about the same horrible night at Los Muertos.  Wow.  I needed that.  I needed to meet and relate to another cruiser who found the rocking and rolling at Los Muertos appalling.  It was in that moment I knew that I was finding my way in this lifestyle of cruising.  Perhaps I am a sea gypsy after all.

Blue diagonal

Blue diamonds

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Blue Trilogy

Where the winds and tides of the Sea of Cortez prevail over the Pacific

Where the winds and tides of the Sea of Cortez prevail over the Pacific

Claiming La Paz: a trilogy.

Our 'backyard' view, anchored in La Paz.

Our ‘backyard’ view, anchored in La Paz.

Encarta Dictionary 

“Adventure is the participation or willingness to participate in things that involve uncertainty and risk”  

La Paz, Baja California Sur is home sweet home for now.   Seamore Pacific dropped her anchor yesterday after three days of day sailing and two nights of sleeping on the hook (anchor) in remote Mexican bays.  La Paz is everything I hoped for and thank goodness, because otherwise Seamore Pacific would be for sale today.  The accumulation of uncertainty was battling with romantic expectations and expectations was losing.  But today, instead of visiting the local yacht broker and placing her up for sale, I’m loving being anchored in La Paz, and enjoying the flashbacks of dating Captain Chameleon when he lived on Windward of Hamble in Boot key Harbor in the Florida Keys.  Boot Key has Dockside lounge and La Paz has the Dock Café.   If I hadn’t lived the experience of sailing from San Diego to La Paz, as I peer across the bay to the mangroves, I would think I’m in the Florida Keys.  Sailboats line the horizon; all sizes, types, and degrees of being forgotten by well-meaning sailors.  Every single boat here has a story.  And if La Paz is like Boot Key Harbor, it’s an easy place to call home.   Or, in the case of forlorn boats, the sailor just got fed up with living on a boat, dropped the anchor, and moved ashore.

Abandoned boat is home to Pelican Sam.

Abandoned boat is home to Pelican Sam.

The natural beauty between Cabo San Luca and La Paz is stunning. Paradise.  But sometimes even paradise can turn the stomach sour or change one’s heart.  To ignore the moments that turned my stomach or threatened to change my heart about Seamore Pacific would in essence be going through the motions and pretending.  So instead, I’ll claim them.

Claim it.  Write about it.  And continue the adventure…

Part 1:   Going from Cabo San Lucas to Los Frailes.   I woke that morning relieved to no longer be dreaming.  All night I sailed, and sailed, and sailed.   The alarm when off and I was tired from ‘dream sailing’ and yet wide awake and ready for new horizons.  Cabo had been fantastic in many ways, but the Sea of Cortez was calling.  Also, we felt a bit rushed because with the Ha Ha over, a surpass of cruisers would be heading out with  the same plan as us, and the Mexico Boating Guide said Los Frailes could only handle about 6 boats at anchor.  The race was on!  Hoist the sails and let’s beat the others there.   We hoisted the sails and left the bay with 4 other boats in view.  As hard as we tried, we just couldn’t make time because the wind was coming from the exact same direction as we wanted to go.  Our choice was to tack the entire way,making it to Los Frailes the next day…or motor.   Not wanting to turn a 10 hour trip into a 20 hour trip, we motored.  Disappointment began to set in.  Didn’t we ‘sign- up’ to sail the Sea of Cortez?  Here we are in a sailboat, motoring.  Suddenly and casually Captain Chameleon remembered a detail about cruising the Sea of Cortez that he had read.  “Most sailboats have to motor in the Sea of Cortez because the wind is always coming from the direction one wants to go.” No wind on the nose Oh.  Okay then.   Must be why most of the other sailboats around us are motoring.  Keeping our noses to the wind, we half sailed and mostly motored to Los Frailes, hoping to be one of the six boats to anchor overnight.

As Los Frailes came into sight, my stamina started to flutter.  Tired from the previous night’s work of dreaming that I was sailing and then today’s motoring through a north wind, I was tired and loathing the thought of having to pass Los Frailes and navigate through the night.  With me at the helm and Captain Chameleon at the binoculars, we tried to predict our fate.  Were we one of the six boats to make it to Los Frailes?

“How many masts can you make out?”

“Eighteen.  I think I see eighteen.”

What?!  Eighteen boats anchored in a little anchorage that is supposed to only fit six?  Well, it’s going to be nineteen then.  And so we anchored with 22 other boats in Los Frailes (3 came after us).  It was a cozy clan and if not for knowing we were anchored inches from the abyss and could easily drag anchor, we would have slept soundly that night.  Instead, we took turns waking to check that we were not drifting south and into the Panama Canal.

“Muchos gracias” Bahia Los Frailes for your outstretched shore and receiving us for the night.  Your beauty was worth motoring for, despite my disappointment that we didn’t sail to greet you.

Too be continued…

Simple pleasures:  morning java in La Paz from a ceramic cup.

Simple pleasures: morning java in La Paz from a ceramic cup.

Sun is rising as we leave Bahia Los Frailes

Sun is rising as we leave Bahia Los Frailes

Leaving Los Frailes with another boat.

Leaving Los Frailes with another boat.

La Paz Bound

DSC00366Tomorrow we pull up anchor and head for La Paz.  Thanksgiving in La Paz, with other “yatistas”, sounds like a 2013 winner.  The best part of our sailing now is that we can day sail most of the time.  After leaving Cab San Lucas tomorrow morning, we will sail around the cape and anchor tomorrow night at Los Frailes; a village that consists of 20 or so homes and a fly-in hotel (airstrip behind the hotel).  After clearing our exit from Cabo at the Port Captain’s office, we stopped at our favorite restaurant.  We like it because the proprietor is always smiling, the place sparkles, the food is delicious, the service is impeccable, and they have free Wi-Fi.   While eating our tacos faster that you can say “likety split” we happened onto two other couples who have the same travel plans as we do.  Yeah!  We will have familiar faces at the remote anchorage of Los Frailes.  For an introvert, I’ve surprised myself in how much I like seeing other boats go where I’m going.

After Las Frailes, there is another all day sail to Bahia las Muertos.  Depending on weather, how much we like the anchorage, or an un-factored event, we will stay there a day and then to La Paz the next day.  Sounds like fun, huh?  All in all, I hope to do some snorkeling…Captain Chameleon is snorkeling as I write, just off the stern of  Seamore Pacific.  The water is a deep, clear blue.  We are anchored on a sandy shelf that immediately drops off to the ‘submarine canyon’.  Deep, deep water lies just a few feet from where our bruce anchor rests.  Another reason for us being ready to pull up anchor and head to another anchorage is that where we are now, we need to get up a few times each night to check that our anchor isn’t dragging because of the tide, currents, and wind.  No complaints, because it isn’t as though we have to go to work in the morning, but it means we both sleep light.  Oh yes, and because Cabo is a party town, there is always the sounding of thumping music; even at 2 a.m.  The solitude of Los Frailes may throw me into shock.

200 ft yacht moved into the neighborhood.

200 ft yacht moved into the neighborhood.

Today I enjoyed provisioning.  Not knowing what produce will be available makes shopping an adventure.  Fortunately for our tastes, we found ample avocadoes, romaine lettuce, queso, limes, tomatoes, plantains, eggs, fresh baked bread, and apples (from the USA). DSC00371 Our fridge is not wanting to shut off when it is suppose to, which is draining our batteries, so until we get to La Paz, I’m avoiding buying anymore meat…just in case the fridge is getting ready to kick the bucket.  We like beans, rice, and vegetables, so no real hassle either way.  Except, I do like ice in my margaritas.

Until we have internet again, I wish my family and friends the very best.

S/V Seamore Pacific

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Riding Solo in Cabo

Veteran's DayBaja Ha Ha XX came to a close Saturday night with an awards ceremony in the marina parking lot.  It’s this kind of venue that has me proud to be an alumni of the Ha Ha.  While sport fishing tourney’s were holding a sit-down surf and turf dinner just around the corner at a 5 star resort and handing out prize money near the hundreds of thousands, the Ha Ha participants were congregated in a freshly swept parking lot,  in a beer brigade to pass ice cold beer to the back row, and  celebrating the oldest and youngest participants.  The youngest being 3 years old and the oldest 86!  Woohoo!!  DSC00321

Seamore Pacific’s umbilical cord has been officially cut.  We woke Sunday and realized there are no more beach parties, no pre-planned destination sailing points, no sailor nets to tune into….natta, natta, natta.  Baja Ha Ha XX is over.  We have friends in high places (fellow cruisers we have met) but no plans other than to sail to the Sea of Cortez.  Without direction, meaning, or real purpose in life, we did what one would expect.  Laundry.

Laundry in Cabo is not for sissies.  And if you have money, you won’t after you do laundry.  The norm here is to have laundry service at $8 per load.  Seamore Pacific had tallied 7 loads of squid smelling swamp.  Literally.  A squid hit me in the head one night when I was taking my helm position seriously.  I saw a flash of white out of the corner of my eye and the next moment, splat!  Into the side of my head.  At Bahia Santa Maria we found 18 dried up squid on the decks.  Today, we found the carcass of one, under a diesel geri-jug.  Yuck.  Back on track with laundry…it is not in our DNA to pay $56 dollars for laundry.  Instead, we paid $42.  A real savings considering the taxi fare was $15 to drop the laundry off 4 blocks from the marina.  A long story short, we hauled the laundry in the dinghy to the docks, then carried it to the curb, hailed a taxi, and visited three establishments before finding one that had a working washing machine.  After filling the machine with a garden hose and mopping up the floor after the basin leaked the water out, we walked back to the marina carrying our clean clothes slung over our backs (It would have pushed Captain Chameleon over the edge to have paid another dime in taxi fare).  Stuffed tight into a bright red sail bag, it looked like Captain Chameleon was carrying a body over his shoulder.  I thought for sure the Policia would make us out as criminals.

So today, my first real day as a solo cruiser, I did laundry the old fashion way.  Actually, it was quite easy, the whites came out brighter than if they had been in a machine; and still plenty of energy to take a dip off the back of the boat and make a pizza for dinner.  It was only a small load, but it was way easier than dealing with the hassle of schlepping it to the dinghy dock, then hauling it four blocks to the lavanderia, and building a reputation as the Americano who carries bodies on her shoulders.  washing clothesLaundry the best one

Pizza dough

As I was hanging laundry to dry, a cruise ship pulled into port.  What a stark contrast from when visiting Cabo San Lucas aboard a cruise ship and then as a sailing cruiser.

Cruiser on a luxury ship or a 36 foot sailboat, it’s a grand time in Cabo San Lucas.

Tommy Bahama

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