reto mag

about the land and the people

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16/2015 image of the week

April 17th, 2015 by sophie · atlantic, france, image of the week, nature, ocean, photography, reportage, surfing


beach buggy driver at arcachon, france.
these guys drive unbelievably fast and without making any noise. some of them almost scared me to death when they passed me!
© sophie daum 03/2015 @ arcachon, france 

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Nepal memories part 2

March 10th, 2015 by Addy · nepal, reportage

Photography by Julia Dreier/ Text Adeline Mallmann

I already mentioned that it would not be easy to win the children’s heart in a breath. A foreign women, who does not even speak their language first had to prove herself. But slowly the faith in me started to develop. I taught them english in a playful way for instance by using the pothitting game, ping pong or theater play. For every lost point in ping pong they had to spell a word. I don’t know whether this was effective though, as they played ping pong really well. Their English was still in an early state of development. But how the author Paulo Coelho once said the simple desire to share something leads into the world without language, where everything is clear and there is not a tiny risk to misunderstand each other.

With the owner of the hostel I got along very well. One evening he told me that he was a former monk and when the Hippies came to Kathmandu he joined them. They drove with a bus through plenty of Asian countries to Munich, where he did everything which was not possible for him as a monk. I loved to listen to his adventures and found it a shame to not have lived within the Hippie time.

I want to tell you about another oasis of tranquility, which attracted me after work: The buddhist stupa in Bodnath, Kathmadu, which was 5 minutes from my hostel. It was as well located behind a big iron door. Many people were walking around the stupa, praying or meditating. (Info: The stupa in Bodnath is one of the most important sanctums in Nepal. The backgrounds and datas of it’s history are disputed. One suspects, that at the location of the stupa, there was a trade way to Tibet. Probably the travelers used the stupa for a last pray, to be protected on their way. The stupa in its current form is not the original but was built in the 14th century. The original form was destroyed by muslims.)  The stupa was surrounded by coffee bars and souvenir shops. When I sat on the roof terrace oft the saturday cafe I felt liked I looked directly into Buddhas eyes.

 

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Nepal memories part 1

January 18th, 2015 by Addy · nepal, reportage

I was sitting on the plane. I had successfully managed my stop in New Delhi and was heading directly towards Nepal. During the flight I was reading my travel guide, which I actually was trying to avoid, since I wanted to get utterly surprised by the country and the people. That may sound risky but in the past I had always handled it like that. Nonetheless, I was reading it this time. It seemed to give a feeling of safety to me. Once the plane started landing, I saw plenty of colorful houses. They lacked roofs and walls but particularly their imperfection makes them beautiful. Leaving the airport building I got welcomed by monkeys and plenty of taxi drivers. At least for the taxi drivers the traveling guide prepared me. With a heavy heart I ignored them and look for the sign with my name. A member of the organization for which I was going to work welcomed me. We drove in silence but it was a silence fulfilled with curiosity that I felt while I was looking out of the window. The air smelled of  heavy car emissions but also like life. At the chaotic main street the driver droped me out. I looked around: Monkeys were climbing around, the horns were blowing permanently (mostly without a reason) and people discussed in front of their tiny stores. The life on the main street was vibrating! I was standing in front of a big iron door, probably the entry for the guesthouse. After opening the heavy door I was amazed. The lawn was perfectly arranged and it smelled wonderfully of Nepali food. I directly headed to the bathroom since I had an appointment to get to know the village, in which I was going to work. I walked down the main street and again ended up standing in front of an iron door, the entry to the village. The children gave me a warm welcome. I guess this was due to their first curiosity as their confidence, which I would notice a few days later, I first had to gain. But for the moment I just enjoyed their sympathy. I came back to my guesthouse in the evening. After a delicious dinner I directly headed to bed but I couldn’t sleep. This might has been due to the flooding of impressions but also due to the barking street dogs who, during the night, replace the blowing horns. I went down to the bookshelf. I found plenty of traveling guides, some political books or children’s books. I went for a vampire novel (not twilight), which calmed me down and led me into a wonderful deep sleep.


Photography by Julia Dreier

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yosemite national park

July 27th, 2014 by nina · article, california, forest, nature, reportage, usa

on my second weekend at the bay we went on a trip to yosemite national park. i always wanted to see a national park. i haven’t imagined it to be that far because i always have a problem to convert miles to kilometers. but the trip was already really interesting. starting in berkeley we drove east and it is impressive how fast the landscape is changing. you drive like 1 hour and you seem to be at a total different landscape. we went from the green bay area to yosemite passing a bleak landscape, dried hills with wind turbins and cows, almond plantations, small villages and farms. the closer we got to yosemite the greener the landscape became. we drove on windy roads through forests and valleys, crossing rivers and hills until we finally entered the national park border where a nice park ranger gave us cards and informations. while driving into the valley we had an amazing view on one of the famous rocks in yosemite, the monolith el capitan. the native call it tu-tock-ah-nu-lah after one of their headmans.

day one
we wanted to hike the vernan and nevada falls on friday afternoon, so we parked our car near curry village and went to the trail. the way up was a bit crowded until we came to a little hut half way to vernan falls. a sign warned us that this was the last chance to get water. so we filled up our bottles and went on. since my travel guide said the john muir trail would be less crowded we chose that one. and the guide was right. we met just a hand full of people while climbing up hill.

since the hut the trail was a narrow sand path with rocky parts. the evening was near and we were about to turn around when a nice woman told us that it was not any higher from the point where we were and the highest point of the nevada fall would be just around the corner. so we hurried up and were rewarded with an amazing view over the woods and into the valley.

the sun was nearly downing when we hurried to get back to a paved road. at a interception point i recommended to take the shorter path not knowing what i got us into. while the sun was downing we went on slippery and wet rock-cut stairs next to vernan fall. it was gorgeous and terrifying at the same time.

the mist of the waterfall was wetting our clothes and hair. we had to take good care where we put our steps. we made it back to the paved road at the ground with the last trace of light. it was already dark when we came to the road to the parking area. while walking to our car a deer crossed the street, stopped and watched at us for a while before it disappeared into the forest. yosemite has definitively a nice way to welcome guests.

day two
we kept saturday for our big tour to the upper yosemite fall but when we woke up our muscles were so sore that we were not sure if we could make it. plus we didn’t know that it was the first day of the year that half dome (the other famous rock) opened for rock climbing. it took us nearly forever to get into the park. when we finally made it we decided to hike to the lower yosemite fall and then decide if we want to move on. the hike was challenging for us but for me the most.

i had a huge problem with the sheer ascent. my legs were burning like fire. on our way to the lower fall we met a lot of people with much better equipment. parts of the path were so rocky that a hiking pole would actually have helped. others were sandy and steep.

we arrived the lower fall on time for our lunch break. the lower fall was not as misty as the vernan fall on day one but we saw a double rainbow where the fall hit the rocks. after we ate i thought we would turn and go back down. my only wish was to rest my burning legs. but eugene encouraged holly and me to go on, so we did. it took us two hours to get to the lower fall and another two to the upper. i was cursing the whole time which is ok because they were the day before when we went down the slippery stairs while daylight was fading. but both times the reward was totally worth the endeavor. again we nearly gave up when a man passed us saying “you are nearly there, it’s about 10 minutes to go. you can make it!” with a cheery smile. it is really moving how total strangers we met on the trails were encouraging each other.

on top of the hill we went through a quit clearing and then we saw the view. every hurting part of my body was totally forgotten. the view and the knowing that you made it up here was just breathtaking.

we walked around the top, took a very terrifying way without a real handrail down to a little platform and enjoyed the view for a while. it was an amazing and fulfilling experience.

we finished the day with a little bonfire at a camp where holly’s friends camped down in the valley. we sat at the fire, eating marshmallows and listened to the sound of the forest and the camping ground. on our way back to the hotel we stopped to watch the millions of stars. the perfect end of a perfect day.

day three
on sunday no one of us got out of the bed easily. the sore muscles of day two turned into burning-like-hell legs.

after a long and quit breakfast we drove to the mariposa grove of giant sequoias. i read before that the grizzly giant is the biggest tree at mariposa grove. it has a surrounding of 29 meters (95 feet) and is 64 meters high (209 feet). it is 2700 years old and really impressive.

the grizzly giant was not the first sequoia i saw at the park but when you see him for the first time it is stunning, i have never before seen such a big tree. we stood in front of it for a while just speechless. we went on to see all the other trees. the faithful couple, the three graces, telescope tree and the fallen wawona tunnel tree.

i can not describe the feeling you have when you stand in front of a living being which is so much older than you can ever get, than you can even imagine. we left mariposa grove at 4 pm to watch the sunset at glacier point.

glacier point is a famous overview at yosemite where you can see the whole park and even the sierra nevada. after we arrived we realized how cold it is up on the hill. so we put on everything we had and walked down the small path. the overview at glacier point is amazing. every time i thought it can’t possibly get any better it always did.

at glacier point we looked at all the places we have been the last two days. i couldn’t believe that it has only been two days. it was an amazing adventure i will never forget. before we left we promised to come back and hike half dome.

 

this is what i learned at the weekend in yosemite:
hikers are really friendly beings who encourage each other because they know in which pain you are.
really old and really big trees make you feel so small and unimportant. what is a human life in the face of a 3000 year old tree that survived hundreds of fires?
there are millions of reasons to save the nature!
it is always good to have a beanie and a second jacket.
and most important…you are always, always capable to do more than you think you can. you can get to the top. you can make it!

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big sur – music to my ears

June 14th, 2014 by nina · california, ocean, reportage, usa

big sur – what a magical name for a place. in spanish sur means south. so big sur sounded always like the big south to me, the magical place where the summer has its home.
on my last weekend in california my friends and i took a road trip down the coast to monterey, carmel and big sur.
we drove down the highway 1 to monterey and took the 17 mile drive to see the coast and the lone cypress.

the weather was rough and cloudy. it was a windy road and took us about an hour to see everything we wanted. while driving further on highway 1 to big sur passing the bixby bridge the sun broke through the clouds. this bridge was opened in 1932 and is with 98 meters/ 320 feet still one the worlds tallest single-span concrete bridges.
in big sur we just had one destination. pfeiffer beach. it is weird to drive 157 miles to see a beach. but it was so worth it.
pfeiffer beach is just magical. it was one of the windiest days during my stay and the sand got whipped around our legs, arms and faces but the sun was shining and the waves were beautiful. and my undefined feeling about the name big sur finally has a picture.
on our way back we pulled over to watch another monet-like sunset.
we stopped in carmel to find a place where we could eat but since it was saturday the restaurants were crowded by the well-off tourists who stayed in carmel. it looks like a friendly small town with lights in the trees and a lot of people on the streets.

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i left my heart in san francisco

June 9th, 2014 by nina · reportage, san francisco, usa

i left my heart in san francisco
high on a hill, it calls to me
to be where little cable cars
climb halfway to the stars!
tony bennett

at this moment i sit at my desk at home in my small village in germany. it is noon and very quiet and way too hot. hard to imagine that a bit over a week ago i still was in the us, at the beautiful city at the bay. i spend 3 weeks visiting my dear friend holly in berkeley california. graduating university in february i thought it’s now or maybe never, so i took time off from work and got on the plane to san francisco. and i have to confess i fell in love. i fell in love with the small berkeley houses with its small porches, with the beautiful variation of flowers in the yards, the big trees next to the walkway and the friendly people of the bay area who always say hello and wish you a nice day. i spend my days walking around, drinking coffee, eating tuna sandwiches and enjoying life.

and i fell in love with san francisco. with the victorian houses, the bay with its sailing boats and kite surfers, the secondhand book and record shops, with burritos and ginger ale, the gentle breeze which cools down the hottest summer day (hot in san francisco means 28°C/ 82°F) and the pacific ocean beach. if people ask what i have seen and done, i have to say nearly everything.

the piers/ fisherman’s wharf
my first day in san francisco i was walking along the san francisco bay. i spent some time at pier 5 which is a very beautiful old wooden pier from which you have a good view at the bay bridge and over the bay.

it felt so good to walk down the piers with a coffee in my hand and the wind in my hair passing by tourists who just arrived with a cruise boat. i went down to pier 39 and fisherman’s wharf which are the most touristy places in san francisco but good for buying postcards and really terrible souvenirs. and of course i didn’t want to miss the sea lions of pier 39.

all after all it is a place you should visit once you are there but you don’t have to go there twice.

at fisherman’s wharf i looked at the small places where you can eat shrimps and fish and visited the famous sour dough bread factory.

alcatraz
alcatraz is my one must do touristy thing in san francisco. the ticket is about 28$. on the boat tour to “the rock” i’ve been told the varied history of alcatraz.
the island is named after the spanish word los alcatraces although the birds it refers to most likely have been cormorants and not albatrosses. the island has been a military fort, a prison and occupied by native americans. today it is a national park and a highly frequented tourist attraction. i was not sure if it would be worth the money but i am absolutely convinced.
inside the old prison building i got an audio guide which was really amazing. former prisoners and guards take you on an audible tour through the cell block. they tell their stories and you hear the sounds of a normal day at alcatraz which gave me shivers. san francisco is so close that you can see and hear the city but there was no escape from alcatraz. it is surrounded by ice cold water which made even the short destination to the city an insuperable barrier.

presidio/ golden gate bridge
starting at fisherman’s wharf you can do a lot of things. one day we rented bikes to ride through the presidio and over the golden gate bridge.
i had no idea that riding over the bridge is possible. we passed crissy fields and parts of the lower presidio until we arrived at the golden gate bridge. seeing the bridge on pictures is nothing compared to actually seeing the bridge. it is one of the most amazing sights i’ve ever seen. and it is just stunning to cross it on a bike. the wind of the ocean and the feeling of being free and wild which only a bikeride can give you.

after riding across the bridge and back we rode a bit through the presidio not noticing that we took the most difficult of all bike routes and the sun was burning our skins. we arrived at the palace of fine arts in the early evening exhausted and with red skin. but this place really compensated us for everything.
the palace of fine arts was built for the panama-pacific exhibition in 1915. the building we see today is a rebuilt of the 1960′s. when we arrived the sun was already low and the whole building was illuminated in the most stunning light. the palace itself is incredibly beautiful and huger then i expected it to be.

lombard street/ telegraph hill
another path you could take from fisherman’s wharf is up hyde street, down lombard and up telegraph hill. and when i say up i really mean up. hyde street is a really steep street and it takes a while to get to the top where lombard street branches off.
a part of lombard is known as the crookedest street in the world. in tight turns it meanders its way down the hill.
walking down lombard street i passed the districts russian hill and north beach and ended up at the bottom of telegraph hill with the coit tower on top.
from the hill i had an amazing view over the city. normally you can also get on top of coit tower but unfortunately it was closed due to renovations. but even from the bottom of the tower i could see the whole city including the crooked part of lombard street.

 

north beach
one day on my way to the beach i met a guy at a bus and he asked me if i would move to san francisco and my answer was “yes, to north beach”.
north beach is also known as little italy. you can find plenty of italian restaurants here which serve really good food. people are sitting outside of the bistros enjoying their lunch with a glass of whine. north beach has amazing small shops and also a lot of second hand book and record shops. it was the district of the beatniks. they went to city light books to buy their books and then read them with a drink at versuvio saloon. walking through the streets i immediately felt home. if i wouldn’t move directly to the beach i would definitively move to north beach.

chinatown

chinatown is a very different and colorful district. there are chinese lanterns above the streets and shops that sell things i’ve never seen before. so many different smells, foods and sounds – i had no idea where to go first. i bought a lot of the gifts for my friends and family here.
the highlight was the visit in the fortune cookie factory where we could watch how they make the fortune cookies and try some (they are so much better then the once we get in germany).

painted ladies/ haight ashbury
alamo square is located in the west of san francisco and at alamo park you can find the painted ladies.
i have seen these wonderful victorian houses in so many movies and tv shows before (like full house in the 90′s) and they are even more beautiful. but the painted ladies are not the only beautiful houses in san francisco. you can actually find them at any street corner. specially at hyde street and the whole russian hill area there is one house more beautiful than the next.

if you walk (or drive) further west you will arrive at haight ashbury which is still known as the hippie district. this is the place where janis joplin lived and where you can find the most amazing clothes at second hand shops. i was that close to buy an original dress of the 50′s and a hat. my favorite place in haight ashbury is the fizzary. a soda shop where they have the best variation of soda pops i have seen.

golden gate park
one of my favorite days was the one i spent with holly at the golden gate park. we started in the morning at the east end of the park, ended up at sundown at the west end and we haven’t seen everything.
we started at the japanese tea garden where we had tea. we chose genmaicha and hojicha. the tea garden is a very quiet and calm place. everything seems to be slower and i got calm and rested after a view minutes walking around and watching at little lakes, buddha figures and temples.

leaving the teahouse we went further west in direction to the beach. we passed by the chinese pavilion at stow lake, some boathouses where you can rent paddle boats, we saw bisons and dutch windmills. but mostly we passed big trees and beautiful meadows where families were having barbecues and friends played frisbee.

 

pacific/ sutro
at the end of the golden gate park we ended up at ocean beach.
there it was the pacific ocean. crossing the great highway and looking at this amazing beach made me speechless. i haven’t been to the ocean for a long while and my instant feeling was i have to be here all the time!!! the sand was so soft that it was hard to get to the water and the water itself was ice-cold. but what should i say? i just love the ocean, the sound of the breaking waves, the wind that dishevels my hair and the scent of salt. i stood there for a long while with my feet in the water and the nose in the wind.
before the sun would set we wanted to see sutro bath which was a bathhouse in the 19th century. it was closed and destroyed by a fire in the 1960′s and only the ruins remained. seeing sutro in the light of low sun was amazing. such a beautiful place.

 

must do’s
there are a view things you definitely should do while staying in san francisco. some i already mentioned like rent a bike and cross the golden gate bridge, drink tea at the japanese teahouse, try fortune cookies at chinatown and visit alcatraz. but there is more…

what would california be without the myth of the californian sun, the endless beaches and the hot surfer boys in shorts. some things are really myths. like the surfer boys in shorts, the water temperature of the pacific ocean is between 14 and 20°C/ 52 and 68°F, so it is more surfer boys in wetsuits. but the beaches are sure beautiful and endless. so get your blanket, some snacks, your best friend and watch the sunset at the ocean beach.


open books – open minds – open hearts
in north beach at columbus ave and jack kerouac alley you find the famous city lights booksellers and publishers, the bookshop where the beatniks bought their books. this wonderful place calls itself a “literary meeting place since 1953″. i could wander between the old wooden shelfs for days and read the small notes with the staff recommendations. so go there and buy a book!

san francisco wouldn’t be san francisco without the cable cars. on my last day at the city i went to drive the powell-hyde-line from powell station till the end at the cannery next to fisherman’s wharf. i happened to be right in the front and had an amazing view down hyde street. it is a bit like a slow roller coaster. i think you could say you haven’t been to san francisco without a cable car ride.

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walking the pfalz

February 26th, 2014 by sophie · germany, photography, reportage

last week i visited my mum for a couple of days. she lives with her husband armin in a region which is called the pfalz. its well known for its vineyards and hearty food. they live in the countryside, not far from mannheim. i brought my dog jazz with me and took advantage of live in the village and spent a lot of time outside, exploring. one day i took the camera with me, the outcome isn’t what i hoped it will be… taking pictures and at the same time preventing winemakers getting scared by my wild dog isn’t that easy. i will practise for the next one…

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Christmas Traditions

December 31st, 2013 by nina · article, germany, reportage

i really like the cold season. i like wearing beanies and scarfs and that i get red cheeks outside and my face hurts a little. i love snow and cold air. for me christmas is a very special time of the year. i love christmas. i love the lights and the decoration, christmas markets, mulled wine, cookies and advent calendars. much to the chagrin of my family who needs to act as if they like it as much as i am.

in every family there is a special tradition about the advent time and christmas. different from the usa we germans celebrate christmas on the evening of the 24th of december. we are having a tree and a nice dinner and presents. a lot of things are quite the same. the tree is decorated, there are cookies, the family is having dinner around the table and there are presents of course. but even if we are from the same country there is a difference in how the families celebrate. the food for example. in germany the traditionally food would be roast with potato dumplings and red cabbage. but also a lot of families eat potato salad and sausages for christmas. a huge question is always do we hand out presents before or after the dinner? i can’t tell how other families celebrate christmas. but i can tell how mine is doing it.
my sister and me normally celebrate with our dad and our gran. my sister is coming some days before christmas and we prepare the christmastree a day before christmas so the branches can recover from being in the transportation-net. on the morning of the 24th we are having breakfast together and i start decorating the tree. we wrap in the last presents, listen to music and talk. in the afternoon we normally start having a mulled wine, call some friends to whish them a merry christmas and start preparing the dinner and the table. there are a white table cloth and red place mats on our christmas table. for decoration we have some chambersticks, strewing reindeers and small red christmas balls. our christmasfood this year was lamb’s lettuce with walnuts and warm goat cheese, gilthead in salt casing with some vegetable and potatoes and as dessert we had gingerbread parfait. making dessert is my part on the meal. i am the dessert woman. to make this food doesn’t take too long and is not too elaborate. so no one get stressed in the kitchen at christmas. it is always a lot of fun to crack the salt casing and a huge mess. while eating we take our time. we listen to music and talk about plans and the last year. we are handing presents after the dinner. while having coffee we change to the couch where the tree is. of course  the presents are under the tree already. we hand them to each other, unwrap them and say thanks. we start reading our books and play with our presents if there is something to play with. this is how we celebrate christmas eve. on the holidays we visit friends or have them over to drink more mulled wine or hot orange-juice and change presents.

while i am writing the last sentences it is all ready between christmas and new year and i take the time to write birthdays and appointments in my new calendar, see some more friends who are home for christmas and update my address book.
i hope you all had a merry christmas and that you will have a very happy new year. may it be a great one.

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Just fell in love with autumn (indoor)

December 10th, 2013 by sophie · forest, germany, nature, photography, reportage

The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold
I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sun-burned hands I used to hold
Nat King Cole – Autumn Leaves 

Photography by Sophie Daum

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The most chaotic time during my stay in Auckland

October 7th, 2013 by Addy · accommodation, auckland, new zealand, reportage, retomag, shopping, sightseeing

After a while I noticed that the student accommodation I lived in started to afflict me. All my friends, who used to live in the building had gone and the parties seemed to be the same after a while. So me and my danish friend from the language school had an idea, which can be called a cultural experiment. One man with two girls. We decided to move together with a  friend of her. I really loved the flat we picked as it was one of the old buildings in the city, which is a rarity in Auckland. I also liked to hear the street musician from my window. It went well until new years eve arrived. I spent the night on the beach with my friends and when I came back. In the morning the decision to move out again had to be made as me and my danish flatmate found out that during the last weeks our flatmate had not paid his part of the rent. Me and my flatmate moved out on the same day and luckily two friends offered us their couch. My danish flatmate moved back to her host family after a couple of days and I started to look for a room. There was was this quarter of Auckland, called Ponsonby, with art galleries and trendy boutiques, which I liked a lot and where I started to look for a new place to move in. When I had an appointment in a house in Ponsonby I passed another house where a group of young people were preparing their barbecue. I asked them for the way, and they told me that they had a room available as well. I really liked the room, the house and also the people seemed cool to me. They invited me for barbeque but I declined because I had another flat visit in another quarter of Auckland. When I came back, pretty sure to take the room, they had found someone else in the meantime. I was so disappointed as I had really fallen in love with everything about this flat. Two days later when I sat at work, my mobile rang and David, one of the guys from the ponsonby place told me that the room would be available again as the other girl would move somewhere else. I was so delighted and could not wait to move in. My flatmates, were a guy from New Zealand television, an Irish chef, an engineer and a girl from Germany who worked in a photostudio and who is also known as the founder of this magazine. I was very happy to live in this house and enjoyed every day of this splendid two months in Ponsonby.

Photography by Sophie Daum

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