Saturday, December 26, 2009

Leaf Cutter Ants in my garden

Leaf Cutter Ants in Jocotepec Mexico

My neighbor had some Leaf Cutter Ants in her garden but I'm not sure she had a nest there. She did track their trail to a nest in front of my house on the street, dumped a poison powder on them and we thought that was the end of it.

Little did I know that the volcano of dirt under some shrubs and extending into my lawn was from the same critters. I just kicked the dirt back and eventually the mound didn't grow any larger. I knew they were ants but not these guys.

Then there's the issue of a number of my plants not doing so well but I thought it was due to previous neglect, lack of water and I'm new to this climate. Maye some plants were going dormant for the winter.

So two days ago I was working in the garden and noticed the line of ants carrying parts of leaves much bigger than themselves. I followed them back home and sure enough it was where they had been pushing dirt into the lawn a few months before, yikes!!

All I have is a powder that I used on termites down in Melaque so I don't know if that will eliminate these or not. I found the following in an article on Yucatan Living. We'll see in the next few days.

The ultimate solution is pictured here. It is often called padrón by the locals, but this particular brand is called Extermirex. Only use it if you can find the entrance to the colony. Then, while wearing rubber gloves, pour the granules into any holes the ants are using and cover with dirt. The entire colony will be dead within five days. It is the most effective solution we’ve found.

Two openings to the nest with ant powder

The ant train

An undisturbed nest entrance

So they don't like Bouganvilla eh?

Box shrubs are not immune

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Tianguis in Jocotepec

Thursday is Tianguis day in Joco and was also the day before Christmas. That makes for a huge day of normal shopping as well as last minute shopping for presents. Vendor stands totally filled the plaza surrounding the Christmas tree and nativity scene. Mostly toys but also lots of clothing, food ... and people watching.

I made three trips to the plaza yesterday - one just to see in the morning and take some photos, a second with Maria and family shopping for clothes and food for our Xmas day dinner and a third in the evening with gringo friends to check the festivities and eat dinner. I'm still not a night photographer but friends had cameras and am hoping they got a few good shots. All are Bloggers so will wait to see what they post.

It seemed like the whole town was in a good mood as we walked back home checking out a few nativity scenes in front of private homes. Lots of hello's, buenas noches, Feliz Navidades, hand shakes and hugs. A very pleasant evening !!

Christmas in Jocotepec

Christmas in Jocotepec

Christmas in Jocotepec

Christmas in Jocotepec

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Where is this beach

One of my favorites on the west coast of Mexico

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Laguna Sayula

We took a little loop drive a few days ago heading around Cerro Garcia and thru some back roads towards Amacueca and back on the 54 libre. We went around the lake from Jocotepec to Tuxcueca where the highway to Mazamilta takes off south. Just about a mile on that road there is road to the right that heads to Citala, Teocuitatlan de Corona, across Laguna Sayula to highway 54.

Pretty country but it's dry and brown now including the Lake. We made stops in Citala, very small and not much there and Teocuitatlan quickly to check the old sugar mill. There are much better preserved and larger mills around Mexico but this one has been converted to housing, hay storage and various other things. Didn't get to see much of Teocuitatlan because we got a late start and my partner had been there before. Gonna have to start earlier next time by myself or with another 'newbee'.

Anyway, we did make it to Amacueca for coffee and did not get rained out this time. However what really interests me about that area is the lake and how it changes from season to season. Some years it has lots of water (looks like a lake) and right now it's dry .... but not as dry as it's going to be. When it's really dry it turns to dust and with a good wind the storms can be like a 'white out' with snow. In the opposite season it is green and filled with migratory birds.

Then there are stories of the ancients living on the lake, salt deposits and collection, arrow and spear heads found and pottery shards. Interesting stories and history

View Larger Map

Dry lake and the valley

The lake with water looking across at Cerro Garcia

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Rain clouds and thunder over Jocotepec

Rained lightly this morning and has been threatening this afternoon. Rather odd for December but the rain last week in Melaque was unusual as well. Don't imagine it's enough to change our brown hills green but we'll see tonight. We're planning a short road trip tomorrow and the possibility of driving in the rain will end that.

Took these off my back porch upstairs facing SE and SW. Would be nice to get my web cam up there - we'll see. Some nice sunsets.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Six year Anniversary thoughts on Mexico

I started this Blog in December of 2004 and was a few months from retirement and a few more months from heading to Mexico. I didn't have the experience that Mike had from years in Mexico/Baja but I sure appreciated his attitude. I spent a few months in the late 1990's in Mexico City and had pretty much the attitude but not the prose to say it (still don't).

Just an anniversary post (repeat one of my first) ... and thanks Mexico

Great starting philosophy for my new adventure
More of Mike Humfreville's Stories

While we are traveling through an environment, anywhere in our world, and are not familiar with the surroundings, we are more vulnerable. When we exist in a static environment we grow to know the context in which we live. The local folks and their individual natures.

So, will we not go to the places in our world we are intimidated by? Some might not. But my choice is to face a reasonable danger, as supported by others, and learn something new, expand our lives. Grow the Earth with our new experiences. Cause us to evolve.

Anytime we walk out the door we face unpredictability. Every time we cross a border, a "frontier" in the Spanish language, we face change.

I've wondered through some pretty skunks places on our Earth, mostly as a young man, for good and questionable purposes, and have never been threatened. But I don't feel superior to a general populace and I don't have the bucks to drive a high-priced vehicle there and flaunt my non-existent wealth. I wear jeans and drive a Poor Old Truck (oh! Yeah: and I drink boxed wine of the highest quality - $6/5 liters).

I think you and your friends will find Baja California a pleasant place, a place that dreams are made of. Just read some of the wistful threads here and then experience Baja on your own.

As friends have already told you, protect your stuff in the border towns. That doesn't mean the border towns are bad, it just means there is a more dynamic work force and theft is more likely. Then imagine yourself in a tiny fishing village with a static population, one where everyone knows everyone else and their family and which would protect the basic values, even when you are new to them, of their village and you along with it because you are in their charge, and it's not intended for the five-O'clock News, but because it the right thing to do in their estimation. And their estimation doesen't need to be rewarded by the opinions of others, because they know they're right! That is the essence of Baja California.

That's the way many people think away from all the changing of the guard that happens in the larger cities anywhere on Earth.

I suggest that you and your timid friend "tackle" Baja. She'll bring you to your knees. And rightfully.

You will experience life in Baja's deserts and seashores and you will also discover how you fit into the real world.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The purple gang finds Tejuino

Just got back from 5 days in Melaque staying with Ron and Dora. Good to see the place and people again even tho they had had 3 days of rain just before we got there and humidity was high and the streets a mess. There was a rumor Salvador might show up from San Miguel and sure enough he came banging on the front gate at 2 in the morning Thursday after taking the bus down.

The next day we headed for the market and somehow everyone but me was wearing purple so we were avoiding the red gang we never found. Near the market we found a new Tejuino guy (with new cart) and they had to try it - somehow ending up with purple straws. I tried some, very sweet and if any fermentation it was not noticeable.

From Wikipedia
Tejuino is a cold beverage made from fermented corn popularly-drunk in the Mexican state of Jalisco. It is often served with a scoop of shaved ice.

Tejuino is made from the same corn dough used for tortillas and tamales. The dough is mixed with water and brown sugar (piloncillo) and boiled. Then the liquid is allowed to ferment very slightly. The resulting drink is generally served with lime juice, a pinch of salt and a scoop of shaved ice or lemon sherbet. It is usually sold by street vendors in small plastic cups or in plastic bags tied around a straw

Saturday, December 05, 2009

¡Feliz cumpleaños María!

Maria had a birthday yesterday and we went to Mariscos René in Jocotepec. Maria is the oldest sister of 4 and they were all there with the kids. Maria has been the librarian for the local high school for over 20 years and two of her long time compañeros came along.

Can't say the fish is as fresh as that on the beach but maybe that's why most of them had Empanizado, the breaded and fried version of anything. Maria had camarones (shrimp) Mexicana and said they were so spicy she couldn't taste the shrimp. I thought camarones diablo was the spiciest plate you could order. Shrimp either come from the Mazatlan area or are farm raised so Melaque won't have fresher than our area. I had a filet 'mojo de ajo' and they used plenty of garlic, another cover up?

The little girls found a video machine and had fun pretending they were really playing while it kept flashing "Insert Coin". I gave then a couple of pesos and into their pockets they went. The fantasy was better than reality and maybe the pesos were for candy later.

The family

The girls


Video games

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Ajijic Fiestas San Andres

Lots of first time things to do in the Lake Chapala area and last night was my first to this Ajijic Fiesta. Elke and Vern came up from the beach for a day of business and their yearly visit to these festivities. We drove down to Ajijic from Joco before dark, walked around a lot, had tacos on the plaza and then found a plaza bar to watch the parade and drink Micheladas while waiting for the Castillo around 11pm.

The plaza parade is fun. Not the courting types of parades you may have heard of where the boys go in one direction and the girls the other. Just a mass of people pretty much going in all directions while a "cuban-latin" band plays from the kiosco.

My only experience with Castillo fireworks has been in Melaque and I do have to say these were more professional and the structure more solidly built. Lots of rockets going off next to the Castillo and real large fireworks were being fired from a block away. There also were no Toritos here which I didn't miss at all - dangerous and scare the kids. The excitement level in Melaque and Ajijic was the same and after all - that's what's important.

This is the second day of celebration (Lady of Pursisma) of our local Templo (church) here in Jocotepec (not the whole town) and I'm anxious to watch it through the eight day period. Starts every night at 7pm except for the bombs which can go off anytime. The cats love them

Ajijic Fiestas San Andres

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Danzón - a chick flick?

I guess so with a female director and leading role but still one of my favorite Mexican movies.

It's about a couple of phone operators in Mexico City that live for the weekends and the Danzón. Julia (Maria Rojo) finds her perfect dance partner, finds a little romance and he suddenly disappears. The rest of the movie is Julia's search adventure for her dance partner in Veracruz. Lots of dancing, good music and low key adventure.

I used to sit for hours watching Danzon on the weekends on the Cuernavaca plaza. No live music, always recorded and often more dressed up than the folks below.

Danzon Cuernavaca

Monday, November 23, 2009

Jocotepec Raspberries

There's something very soothing about Raspberries. Not only when they melt in your mouth but we almost always had them in our yard up north. These fields are just a short walk from my house up a peaceful dirt road.

Driscoll’s and Berrymex both have large farms in this area but I hear these are not organic like other farms on the south shore of Lake Chapala and Zamora. That may have been older information and they are finding a better market for the organic. Both companies employ lots of workers in the area and I hear it's hard not to have a job if you want one. My neighbor who works there brought me a small box the other day.

Yogurt, banana and raspberries make a good breakfast - that is soothing

Jocotepec Raspberries

Jocotepec Raspberries

Jocotepec Raspberries

Friday, November 20, 2009

Jaguarundi in Melaque

Marcos was house sitting a place in Ranchito so I went one day to visit. Nice big fancy place with pool but is surrounded by an old mango orchard and beyond - just country. I assume because not much civilization around is why this little guy came around.

We assumed, having never seen one, he was young and lost his family. I hear they make pets (sort of) but hard to imagine with the growling this guy did - really ferocious. He would come around your feet if he thought there was something he'd missed to eat but was generally very shy. What was he eating around the house - cat food of course

I didn't have my camera with me and found these fotos on Elke's site (same cat). She had spelled it 'jacurandi' or something similar and I spent a 1/2 hour looking for what it was

Wild Cats - Jaguarundi

Jaguarundi in Melaque
Jaguarundi in Melaque

Jaguarundi in Mexico

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Chapala waterfront construction

Ron dropped by for a few days on his way from San Miguel to Melaque and Bill and I had to show him around. We spent a couple of hours in both Ajijic and Chapala.

The first foto is of an island they are building just off the Chapala Malecon. The process is amazing. Trucks dump rocks on the beach and one by one they are loaded onto a small barge that is then pulled out to the island by rope. The rumor is they will place a large statue of Jesus looking one way or the other ... but just a rumor.

The second is of the new skate board park which is quite large an fits in well with the malecon and park. Nicely done

Statue Island
Skate Board Park
Chapala Malecon, Jalisco Mexico

Thursday, November 12, 2009

You won't see one of these in Seattle

Seen a few before but don't think so large or so badly hidden. For some reason the cats weren't interested or thought it was an inanimate object.

He's looking right at me but all I can imagine is those multi-focal eyes insects are famous for. I wonder how that works

Praying Mantis in my yard

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Lawnmower Man

I took my computer in about a week and a half ago, the computer that suffered badly from beach humidity and dust. They told me to come in last Wednesday and Wednesday told me to come in Friday ... so went in today and they said they need to take it to Guadalajara to check the mother board (tarjeta madre).

So I walked down to the auto repair to see if parts came in and they said they needed to try another place in Guad next week. So off to do some shopping - it went well.

Got home and decided it was time to mow the lawn and shortly ran out of gas. It must be time for an hour in the hammock.

Rested I looked all over for the gas cans that I must have left in Melaque - just give stuff away. Headed out to the local hardware stores and they were all closed around 3pm Saturday - and may not reopen. I ended up at the Pemex/OXXO, bought a gallon of water, dumped it out ... and finished the lawn. A productive day in Mexico

Lawnmower without Man

Friday, November 06, 2009

Guadalajara International Book Fair

The most outstanding meeting of the Spanish-language publishing world awaits you at Guadalajara, from November 28th to December 6th, 2009. Authors, literary agents, librarians, booksellers and more than 1,600 publishing houses from 40 countries visit us every year. With them, over half a million visitors will enjoy the world of books and share the very best of Los Angeles’ culture and arts, our 2009 Guest of Honor.

Guadalajara International Book Fair Web Site

Monday, November 02, 2009

Día de los Inocentes

November 1st is not only called the Día de los Inocentes but also the Día de los Angelitos (All Saints Day) and the Día para Lipiar. November 1st is the day before Día de los Muertos and the streets are filled with flowers (real and plastic), wreaths, toys and food. November 1st is for remembrance of deceased infants and children but also a day to clean grave sites and buy the appropriate gifts for your loved ones that have passed on.

In Melaque all the highschool kids filled the plaza with imitation grave site adornments - almost like a competition Melaque Day or the Dead displays so I thought they might do the same here. The Casa de Cultura in Jocotepec usually does have these displays but not this year ??

So Marilyn and I walked up to the Panteon (cemetery) yesterday to look around and it was mostly people cleaning and placing flowers. Amazed at the amounts of money spent and not spent on the grave sites. There might be a mound of dirt with a cross right next to a marble edificio.

Police and medics were there because they found a large bees nest in one of the grave sites. They would leave it closed till tomorrow when the people are gone.

Day of the Dead flowers Day of the Dead flowers

Jocotepec Panteon Jocotepec Panteon

Jocotepec Panteon Jocotepec Panteon

Jocotepec Panteon Jocotepec Panteon

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick or Treat in Mexico

I just got done feeding (candy I know) to about 20 Trick or Treaters thru my front gate. About 4-5 had costumes and masks which I didn't expect. Earlier today some neighborhood kids were putting white cement (grout) on their faces pretending to be ghosts and asked it I had candy (wish I'd had my camera). I said not now but maybe later.

Rather than going downtown to buy bags of mixed candies, I went to the local store and bought 30 pesos of 1 peso candies, mostly suckers. Didn't really expect them to come back because I've never experienced Trick or Treat in Mexico.

About 7:30 the 20 showed up all yelling whatever it is (give me candy now - probably) and I was ready. Even had a mom with them and I had to hand her one. They must have been scouring the neighborhood but this is Mexico and Día de los Muertos is not here yet. Is this a local phenomenon ... and what do they 'cry out'. I'll ask some moms tomorrow.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Talpa from above

After picking up my new passport in Vallarta last year I drove up highway 70 thru Mascota intending to overnight in Autlan. I came to the Talpa turn off to the south and had to take a look but after a mile or two was presented with this site. Overlooks or viewpoints on Mexican highways are rare but here was a good one.

Anyway it looked too far to just visit and just turn around so I headed back to highway 70 to continue. What I would like to know is if there is only one entrance to Talpa ... or is there another from highway 80.

Talpa Talpa Jalisco off highway 70

Monday, October 26, 2009

A lizard's life

We had a birthday party here yesterday with about 15 people and all day I saw this guy hanging on the wall just outside my front door. Of course all the people left him alone, the dog can't see that well and the cats were hiding from the crowd.

This morning he was still there so I went to check if he was just nailed to the wall or what. I touched his tail and he didn't move - what more can you do. About an hour later one of the cats noticed him and just could not resist. On the 5th try and a good jump the cat got a paw on him and they both came down knocking over a bucket and a broom - distracting the cat and off went the lizard.

Very few iguanas up here is the lake Chapala area and lots of lizards. Sad to say the cats have killed a few and try to bring them in to show me.

Jocotepec Lizard on my wall

Link to Birthday Party fotos and story

Monday, October 19, 2009

Jocotepec and Lake Chapala

They are building a bypass highway around Jocotepec on the side of the mountain. It looks like there will be a lot of stop and go as there is no sign of recent work right above town. In the meantime it's a great little hike with access in a few places. In fact a number of locals have adopted it as their jogging path.

Marilyn and I walked up the other day to see progress and the view ... and it's worth the effort (not that much really). I caught this foto as the sun was going down across Jocotepec with the lake and Mt Garcia in the background

Jocotepec with lake Chapala and Mt Garcia behind

Jocotepec, Jalisco Mexico

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Daylight Saving Time Mexico

Daylight Saving Time begins at 2:00 a.m. local time on the first Sunday in April. On the last Sunday in October areas on Daylight Saving Time fall back to Standard Time at 2:00 a.m. The names in each time zone change along with Daylight Saving Time. Central Standard Time (CST) becomes Central Daylight Time (CDT), and so forth. The state of Sonora does not observe Daylight Saving Time.

As opposed to the US from 2 a.m. on the Second Sunday in March to 2 a.m. on the first Sunday of November.

That would be the 25th this year in Mexico so if you have schedules to keep. This time of year you'll only be early but I've missed a flight in April

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Solar water heaters are cool

Never taken solar water heaters seriously but my new house has one and I'm impressed. Even with 2 days of overcast I can stand under the shower as long as I want with hot water that has to be cooled with the cold. My only gas bill is from the stove use.

There is also enough street water pressure to fill the tinaco so I don't have a pump going on and off all day. Don't need 2-3 showers a day like I did on the beach in summer ... but still.

Took my 3 meter ladder upstairs to look through the Cupola dirty windows and this is what I saw. A large unit. Not that I'll have another building project in the near future ... but I would seriously consider a solar heater if I did.

Why they didn't make one of the Cupola windows as a roof access with hinges I'll never know. Almost impossible to get to the roof on this house.

Jocotepec, Jalisco, Mexico

Monday, October 12, 2009

Jocotepec Malecon Weather

We got chased back to the car soon after from the weather/rain you can see across the lake. Another holiday day in Mexico and more people in the park than we imagined.

The green band along the shore is lirio (water hyacinth) that has been filling the lake lately. A few weeks ago there was none and the beaches were clean. I hear they opened a dam or two up the Lerma river and the lirio is washing down into Lake Chapala. Just off to the right in the little harbor sits the Lake Chapala tour boat that seems to be trapped by the floating green

Saturday, October 10, 2009

New Mexican Bank Targets Expats

CI Banco targets foreign nationals


The News

SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE - A year and a half ago, currency exchange house Consultoría International (CI) got the green light from the Finance Secretariat to operate as a banking institution. In this short span of time, CI Banco has rapidly spread throughout the nation and now boasts 47 branches and three corporate centers.

The News caught up with the San Miguel de Allende branch manager Josefa Jonguitud while she made a sales pitch during breakfast on Wednesday to local real estate vendors group SMARE led by John Hendricks.

Ms. Jonguitud said that true to its currency exchange origins, CI Banco has targeted the English-speaking communities as primary customers, offering them the basic financial services expatriates need.

"Our main service is exchanging personal checks from their accounts in the United States, and we give them pesos or dollars, depending on their requirements," Jonguitud explained.

CI Banco is still not a full-service industrial bank as it cannot issue products such as letters of credit, but Jonguitud sees CI Banco moving in that direction.

Article from The News

CI Banco Website

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Pomegranate - Granada

When you have a Pomegranate tree in your yard and a nice red one falls off now and then ... whatcha gonna do. Don't think I've eaten them since I was a kid in California with red stained hands and clothes. They were just too much work for little results. The only exception since has been chiles en nogada a few times in Mexico.

So today a nice red one on the ground made me want to learn a little more .... and the water trick below in the YouTube video looks like a clean approach. According to the Internet they come ripe in cooler months and my tree is full of green ones

In Mexico, pomegranate seeds are an essential ingredient of chiles en nogada, a favored food symbolizing the red component of the national flag.

A green one on my tree

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

'Smart' speed bumps being developed in Mexico

By Chris Hawley, USA TODAY

TOLUCA, Mexico — Speed bumps are so common here that residents sometimes decorate them for the holidays, painting "Happy New Year" or "Happy Independence Day." One rock band, The Sam-Sam, even has dedicated a song to them.

Yet concerns over the environment — and the utter annoyance of having to brake and accelerate frequently — have prompted one Mexican state government to embrace a "smart" speed bump that could make driving smoother, without sacrificing safety.

The device, being developed by Mexico-based Decano Industries, automatically lowers into the ground when drivers go the speed limit or slower. Drive too fast, and the bump stays up.

The rest of the article

Topes in Mexico

Monday, October 05, 2009

Wild Flowers near Tapalpa

Wild Flowers near Tapalpa

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Read the book for your camera

We spent about 4 hours enjoying a Charreada (horsemanship show)(not a country rodeo) today .... but this is the first time I've tried action fotos with this new camera. After reviewing a few fotos on the camera that looked like the first one below ... I knew I needed a faster shutter speed. I found a Icon of a runner in motion and went for that. While some blurry fotos can be artistic they don't document the action very well. The bottom foto is getting there but still could use some tuning. Part of the problem was this is a covered arena and not the best light.

More on Charreadas later

Bad camera

Good camera

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Rained out in Amacueca

We made a big loop from lake Chapala to Tapalpa yesterday with the idea of seeing a few things I've not seen before First stop was Ferreria de Tula, just outside Tapalapa, which has a very interesting Colonial era dam. On to Tapalpa which is a story itself ... and on to Amacueca.

Amacueca is back down in the valley where the dry lakes are (not so dry now). It was supposed to have some good organic coffee, a museum and a skeleton of a mastodon or dinosaur of some type. Sadly just as we pulled up to the coffee place the sky let loose and the street became a river. That was enough for us and I was the only one to get out of the car just for pictures.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Make your own hummus

I love this stuff but my problem is I always make too much. It usually goes bad in less than a week. Unless you have other people over (that may like it), keep the number of beans to a minimum.

So unlike the video, I cook the dry garbanzo beans for about an hour and put them in a blender. Add garlic, olive oil, lime juice and a touch of salt. Sesame seeds are a good idea but Tahini is expensive anywhere and probably not easy to find in Mexico

Back for thirds ....

Fruit in the yard

So far quite amazed at the weather and not surprised that so many varieties of fruit grow here in the Lake Chapala area - although a little over a week is not much of a weather monitor.

The avocado tree was cleaned out by my landlord just after I'd agreed to rent. I doubt there will be more this season. The mango tree looks far from season but healthy. Only four stalks of sugar cane. Palms of the decorative sort only (5). The tangerine tree is loaded with sweet, juicy and full of seed fruit. The guayaba is badly pruned with most over the wall into my neighbors yard. Both large and small limes - large the size of lemons - small like key limes. The apple tree has been butchered from bad pruning and I'll try to clean it up this winter. And I've never seen a pomegranate tree but I have one.

I'm tempted to get down on Mexican gardeners and the way they treat fruit trees ... but I've known gringo friends up north that have done much worse. It's not easy and even I could use a little (Internet) help with the apple.

Pomegranate and flower


Large Lime with bug

The construction of the house finished in April 2011 and I'm pretty much settled in. As of March 2014 I'm in preparation for rain mode for this coming summer. That includes sealing and painting things and dealing with drainage issues from last year.

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House building in Pinal Villa

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