Autumn’s Adventures


Pizza Pouter
October 17, 2008, 10:23 pm
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I hadn’t seen Gabi since last weekend so I decided to go to her shop this afternoon to catch up with her.  We ended up painting shirts again (it never ends!) and she said she wanted to have people over for pizza later on.  I was happy that there was some sort of plan because there never is.  Gabi called Dani and Seba and they agreed to come over.   She then texted Pato but Pato was already on her way home and didn’t want to go back out.  Gabi got upset and I believe she was going to cancel the whole night just because Pato wouldn’t go.  I could be mistaken though because I only understand about 50% of what is said to me but she seemed like she didn’t want to have it anymore.  I couldn’t understand why it was so important for Pato to be there, why my company wasn’t good enough.  It made me feel kind of bad and want to go home and forget the whole night but I just brushed it off.

I realized that we were still sticking to the plan when Dani showed up and we all went to the empanada place to buy empanadas to eat instead of pizza.  I hate that I am so out of the loop when plans are made because I’d really like to know what is going on.  I know they think I won’t understand so they don’t include me in the details but how am I supposed to learn if they never talk to me about it?  That is the only way I’ll get better.  Oh well.

The empanadas were delicious and we drank beer and coke (mixed) and it was pretty delicious.  We watched part of a fútbol game and Gabi and Dani talked most of the time.  When I’m in big groups I tend to get left out of the conversation because they talk so fast that I can’t understand a word they are saying.  This sucks for me because I really do want to be able to talk and want to be part of the discussion.  My brain can’t handle the multiple people talking at the same time — it is too much to process so I usually just tune out.  I am way better with one-on-one conversations.

At around 2am, me, Dani, Seba and their friend Arnuqui went out drinking.  Gabi wasn’t going because Gabi never goes.  We first went to this bar called Babylonia and it was ok.  The beer was expensive and the waitress was “too cool for school”.  We stayed there for one drink and then went to a boliche called “Kolor”.  My friends kept telling me that it was the rich people’s boliche and that they didn’t like it.  I don’t understand why we went there if they didn’t like it but I didn’t complain.  I liked it and I had fun.



Rain, rain go away.
October 16, 2008, 10:22 pm
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This past week it rained every single day so my days weren’t filled with much besides gloom and wet pant-legs.  I have decided that I only like rain once in a while and only when I am in the mood to watch a movie or when I am sleeping and I can hear it hitting the rooftop while I’m safe, dry and warm.  I don’t like umbrellas and I don’t like rain boots.  I don’t care how cute they can be, I still get wet and they still suck.  This weekend the weather is supposed to clear up so at least I have that to look forward to.



Death Slap
October 13, 2008, 10:18 pm
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It was a slow day here for me.  Much slower than I was hoping it would be.  I had class early in the morning and then I met up for coffee with my new friend Glenda Lobo.  She speaks English and Castellano so we spent about 5 hours talking in English at a cafe.  It is very hard for me to talk in castellano with someone when I know they can speak English.  One of the hardest things for me here is being understood so when I have a chance to communicate something to someone on “the other side” (castellano side) I just do it in English.  I know I should be taking the opportunity to talk to them in Castellano but whatever.  At this point I’m just happy to have someone understand me at all.

From 8am – 4pm all I had to eat was a piece of bread, some coffee and some medialunas.  I was starving and exhausted by the time I parted ways with Glenda.  My body was so weak that I could barely make it home on the bus.  Luckily when I arrived home lunch was ready and waiting for me on the table.  Right after I was done eating I thought I was going to collapse.  I was dizzy and my body felt heavy.  I waited a few minutes for everyone to finish eating and then I stumbled upstairs to pass out on my bed.  When I woke up 2 hours later my body ached, I was hot and my throat hurt.  I wanted to go to the gym but instead I laid on the couch and watched a movie.  I told mama Mercadal that I wasn’t feeling well so she put my forehead on her cheeks to check my temperature. She said I had a fever and gave me some medicine to bring it down.  I laid on the couch for another 3 or 4 hours and then felt much better.

Mama made these beans with herbs and dressing that she called poroto.  After looking up the definition I realize now she was just calling them what they were, kidney beans.  It was freaking delicious.  She has been cooking like a mad woman because she is sending a giant box of home cooked meals to her eldest son, Guillermo, who is studying in another province.  It reminded me of when my mom would make me my favorite meals in bulk and bring them to me when she visited me in college.  Now I have a family that makes home cooked meals for me every day.  I’m so spoiled.



Asado Zarpado
October 11, 2008, 10:10 pm
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I went to a birthday asado tonight for a friend of my friend Pato (or as I found out later, an “enemigo” of Pato, an ex boyfriend).  This was my first asado in Argentina and my second birthday celebration.  The place was a rented space for parties and there were well over 50 people there.  When I walked into the main room I recognized some people that worked at the gym that I go to.  There was the old lady at the counter that was fed up with me because I didn’t speak castellano, there was the blonde chick that wears really short shorts all of the time and then there was this dude that I thought was a trainer.  I thought this guy was a trainer because he came over and helped me with a machine the other day (because as usual I don’t know what they hell I’m doing in there, sorry Pete).  I also have a minor crush on this dude as well as a good portion of the other guys that are at my gym.  It was just my luck that Jujuy was small enough to bring us together on a Saturday night when I was looking super cute (and not sweaty and gross like I look at the gym).
We glanced at each other a few times in the beginning of the night but it wasn’t until 2 or 3 hours into the night that he came over to me.  Unfortunately he was completely wasted and he ended up sitting in my lap and tried to get me drunk like him.  He didn’t speak any English so he kept repeating the same sentences in Spanish over and over again.  Or he’d say “drink you drink” or some such nonsense.  He is also 21.  Bummer.  I don’t really want to date a younger guy because they always prove to be more immature than me and not ready for commitment.  No offense to you younger guys, I’ve just had some bad luck and I’m looking for a man, not a boy.  This guy was acting like a 14 year old that had just gotten drunk for the first time. It was bad.  I’m actually looking forward to seeing him at the gym again to see if he remembers me at all.



Karaoke in Jujuy!
October 10, 2008, 9:55 pm
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Today was my friend Vale’s birthday so a bunch of us went out for pizza to celebrate.  We ordered a ton of pizzas and my favorite by far was the four cheese pizza because one of the cheeses was BLEU CHEESE!  I freaking love bleu cheese so it was such an awesome surprise.  I will be frequenting this pizza place quite often now.

After we finished eating I got an uncomfortable stomach ache.  I get them sometimes after I eat or drink but I can never track a pattern as to why I get them or what foods/drinks cause them.  They don’t happen frequently enough for me to be too concerned but they do suck a whole lot.  It is not a normal stomach ache where I feel nauseous, but rather it feels like all of the muscles in my stomach are tight, like I’m flexing them constantly waiting to be punched.  It usually lasts for a few hours or until I go to bed.  I always seem to get the pain when I am about to have a long, awesome night of partying so that really sucks.

When dinner was over a bunch of us wandered through centro to find a bar.  We ended up at a place called Salamanca and it was a karaoke bar!  Oh what luck!  You can imagine the joy and excitement I felt when I saw karaoke in my new city.  There was no place to sit in the bar because it was packed so we ended up standing by the bar which also happened to be the karaoke stage.  All of my friends wanted me to sing so we found the song list to pick out a song.  Unfortunately there were no songs in English that I knew, out of the three English songs listed.  For a moment I thought, “what a great bar, it is a shame there are no English songs for me to sing…” but then I saw the “song guy” in front of the computer and decided to ask him if he had any English songs on his computer.  As it turns out, he has thousands.  Woohoo!  I had to think quick about what I wanted to sing because I didn’t have a list to stare at.  I chose some old favorites, Ace of Base’s “Don’t Turn Around” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”  The crowd was lively and the whole evening was awesome.  Also, the dude running the songs was also cute so I’ll have to find out some deets on him.



The Talk
October 9, 2008, 9:53 pm
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Last night I talked to my host parents about my length of stay at their home.  This subject has been looming over my head ever since I arrived but I wanted to wait to talk to them about it when I felt more comfortable being there.  Because my castellano is still rocky I wrote a letter to them and had Amber translate it for me.  They thought the letter was sweet and funny and they were going to save it.  As for their response to the letter, they said there was no time period for me at their house, I can leave when I feel comfortable.  They understand that it takes time to adapt to a new and foreign environment and they don’t mind if I do it at their house.  I was so relieved.  I’ll probably stay here until December, we’ll see how I feel when that time rolls around.  I am excited to some day have my own place here but for now I am comfortable and happy at the Mercadal’s house and I don’t want to leave.



Lentomente…
October 8, 2008, 9:44 pm
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As much as I love the company of Alabí, I’m beginning to grow tired of her teaching style.  While I think it holds some value I don’t feel challenged by it and I don’t feel like I’m learning as much as I should be at two classes a week.  I don’t know how to tell her that I’d prefer not to have classes anymore and I’d rather just hang out with her and have coffee from time to time.  Any suggestions would be well received by me because I have no idea how to say “your teaching style just isn’t doing it for me”.

I am going to look for some formal grammar classes that assign homework and scare me a little more because it is more of a challenge and I have to work for it.  I’m not sure where I will find such a class here since I can’t imagine there would be a class here that teaches Spanish grammar in English and Spanish (which is what I truly need).  Alabí is more of a friend that likes to chat about random things than a strict grammar teacher.  I need someone who can challenge me and provide me with many examples of how to use certain grammar so I can turn around and use it in conversation with my friends or in practical situations.

I am getting better with my conversational spanish but I still have a hard time remembering the conjugations for important verbs like dar, decir and pedir.  I’m also not very comfortable with the verbs llegar and llevar yet.  Much practice on my end is still needed.

I was supposed to have my first yoga class tonight but classes were cancelled because today was the holiday for the Virgin Mary.  Instead, I went to Gabi’s business and painted names on t-shirts.  When I asked her why she doesn’t use spray paint she said “it doesn’t work with this type of shirt”.  I am not sure I believe that…Also, appliques are apparently expensive here so that is why she doesn’t use those either.  If she were to ask me, I’d tell her to charge a bit more for the appliques so that she produces a better product and doesn’t spend so much time painting these shirts (she has literally been painting the same shirts for 2 weeks).  I’m still learning how their minds work here and why they take the slow road with everything.  I mean, I think the slow life is good in some parts of your life but when it comes to making money I don’t think you should opt for the slowest option just because it is the cheapest.



The Verb Coger
October 7, 2008, 9:19 pm
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This morning in class with Alabí I learned a new bad word.  For this class I translate English text into Castellano so when it came time to translate the word “seized” I wrote (with pure innocence) “cogieron”.  That would be correct if I were in Spain but in Argentina that means “They fucked.”  Oops.  My teacher tried not to laugh and spelled out the word “F-U-C-K” versus saying it out loud in her explanation as to why that was wrong.  I think in the back of my brain I knew that meant fuck but I forgot.

Today I joined a gym to maintain some sort of healthy lifestyle here.  It only costs 50 pesos ($17) to go twice a week for a month.  Not too shabby.  Had I wanted to use the treadmill, though, it would have cost me $75 pesos a month.  How strange.  I worked out for about an hour and it felt really good.  I’m not where I used to be in terms of strength and endurance but I hope to build that back up.  I am also starting yoga twice a week beginning tomorrow.  That only costs me 100 pesos a month ($30) for twice a week and the studio is really beautiful and big.  My yoga instructor is also the dentist to my host brother and sister.

Tomorrow is a feriado celebrating the Virgin Mary so me and my friends are going to get drunk in the park.  I love that they celebrate a religious holiday by getting drunk versus going to church.  I’m not complaining…



Italian Recipe #2: Basic Pesto and Mint/Arugula Pesto
July 8, 2010, 4:47 am
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Oh my dear lord pesto pesto pesto!  Here I will list 2 variations of the wonderful stuff, both family recipes from this farm.

Basic Pesto

Ingredients:

  • Pecorino (sheep) cheese, aged medium – 50-80 grams
  • Parmesan cheese – 50-80 grams
  • Fresh garlic – 3-4 cloves
  • Salt – big pinch
  • Basil – medium sized mixing bowl of fresh leaves (LOTS OF LEAVES)
  • Parsley – a sprig of leaves (about 30-50 stems)
  • Extra virgin olive oil – 3-4 tablespoons
  • Butter – 125 grams (roughly)
  • Walnuts/Pecans – 130 grams
  • Black pepper – big pinch

Mint/Arugula Pesto

Instead of basil and parsley, substitute mint or arugula (don’t put both in the same recipe — it is competing flavors!)

Instead of parmesan you can substitute one quart of ricotta cheese.

Instructions:

mix all together in a blender.  Add cream if the taste is too strong.

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Gardaland Water Park
July 8, 2010, 4:47 am
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On our first day off this week, it was going to be 90 degrees.  We decided to find a source of cool water to dip our bodies into, but one with a little more excitement than the pool we lounged at the week before.  We set our mind on a water park outside of Milan and we hoped for the best.

It took us 2.5 hours, 1 train, 1 metro, and one bus before we made it to the water park, but in the end it was totally worth it.  There were so many awesome slides and pools and since it was a Monday, not many people were in the park so it wasn’t crowded.  Amber and I were like kids in a candy store, trying every slide and splashing around in the water!  There was a giant bucket that filled up and poured water all over everyone, and there was even a mushroom fountain.  I just LOVED every second of it.  And of course I rocked my American flag bikini.

It was a relaxing day and exactly what we needed on such a hot day.  On our way back home, the train from Milan to Varese was delayed, so we ended up sitting on the train for 1.5 hours before it left, and then it took another hour to arrive.  Since it was late, we missed the last bus to the house and had to get picked up in center.  We got home around 10pm, exhausted and starving and just wanting our beds.  It was still awesome though!



Gardaland Water Park
July 8, 2010, 4:47 am
Filed under: Travel | Tags: , , , ,

On our first day off this week, it was going to be 90 degrees.  We decided to find a source of cool water to dip our bodies into, but one with a little more excitement than the pool we lounged at the week before.  We set our mind on a water park outside of Milan and we hoped for the best.

It took us 2.5 hours, 1 train, 1 metro, and one bus before we made it to the water park, but in the end it was totally worth it.  There were so many awesome slides and pools and since it was a Monday, not many people were in the park so it wasn’t crowded.  Amber and I were like kids in a candy store, trying every slide and splashing around in the water!  There was a giant bucket that filled up and poured water all over everyone, and there was even a mushroom fountain.  I just LOVED every second of it.  And of course I rocked my American flag bikini.

It was a relaxing day and exactly what we needed on such a hot day.  On our way back home, the train from Milan to Varese was delayed, so we ended up sitting on the train for 1.5 hours before it left, and then it took another hour to arrive.  Since it was late, we missed the last bus to the house and had to get picked up in center.  We got home around 10pm, exhausted and starving and just wanting our beds.  It was still awesome though!



Lake Como and Bellagio
July 6, 2010, 8:44 am
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We finally made it to Lake Como and Bellagio, and although it was stunningly beautiful, it was pretty much the same as Lake Maggiore, in terms of the wow factor.  I was kind of disappointed because I expected it to be like walking on the moon or something, but it was no different than the lake or lake towns we had seen the previous week.  It makes me wonder why Bellagio was chosen over Isola Bella on Lake Maggiore…since I really didn’t see much of a difference.  Luck, maybe?

Regardless, Amber and I still had an awesome time taking the ferry to Bellagio (2 hours long) and then eating gelato and walking the hilly cobblestone streets.  The weather was perfect and it is just so nice to be on a lake in the summer.

The villas on the lake were stunning and the landscaping for some of them were truly impressive.  In Bellagio, Amber and I were window shopping and trying on straw hats that were awesome but way too expensive for being made out of straw.

In the city of Como we took the cable car to Brunate for a hard to find view of the city of Como below.  Once we found it though, it was kind of nice.  After, we had our first Italian pizza from a restaurant and it was delicious.



Loungin’ by the Pool
July 1, 2010, 6:05 am
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Amber and I had a half day off today and we decided that we wanted to go swimming since it was 80 degrees outside.  Barb helped us find a pool, which ended up being at a private sports club, and then she drove us there instead of making us hike up the driveway and take 2 buses to get there.

The pool cost 9 euros for the day and we arrived at around noon, so half the day was already wasted!  There were actually 2 pools, just square and simple but really clean looking.  When we arrived we saw a young couple there that we had seen on the bus a few days earlier.  We recognized them because they were sitting across from us on the bus, making out and fondling each other…and we noticed them also because he looked much older than her and she looked about 12 years old.  Well anyway, they were there, all over each other again but this time with much less clothing on…and we were like HOLY HELL VARESE IS SMALL.  They awkwardly stared at us on and off while we were there, mostly because they recognized us and partially because the girl kept being shy about her affection with her boyfriend and thought we were watching them (which we were, buy very covertly…haha).

I was very excited to be wearing my new American flag bikini.  I was hoping for some reactions, good or bad, but I really got none for it.  I’m in LOVE with this bikini on so many levels, and I don’t care what people think of me (be it my friends in America who are embarrassed for me, or anyone else!)  So far, the foreign people I’ve told about my bathing suit, and shown, have thought it to be awesome.  Point proven that patriotism can be cool and I’m totally going to rock it.

So the pool is cold and the only way we could manage to fully immerse ourselves was to jump in — so we did.  The water was wonderful and the pool was incredibly clean, which we noted with fascination.  I started to do hand stands and diving, soaking my hair in the water and letting it float around like octopus legs.  Everyone at the sports club knew each other because they were all members.  Amber and I were the only ones wearing stupid wristbands…standing out like the foreigners that we are (and my bikini, ahem…).  They were staring at us swimming and we couldn’t figure out if they were envious of our youth and mobility (since most of them were old) or if they didn’t like what we were doing.  After about 10 minutes, the young couple followed suit and jumped into the pool, doing as we did.  After a while this old woman said to us “shower cap” and showed us her shower cap for her hair.” We replied “no thank you!” and kept diving under the water.  When we got sick of swimming we got out of the pool, rinsed our bodies off at the outside shower, and go tan for a hot second.  It was bliss.

During our second round of swimming, someone who worked at the club came over to us after we had done our normal “jump in” routine and politely informed us that we needed to rinse off our dirty bodies before getting into the pool and to also wear a shower cap to ensure that hair does not fall out and float in the pool.  Whoops!  We are such grungy Americans that we didn’t even realize these 2 things — no wonder the pool was sparkly clean! No wonder people were glaring at us and the only ones to swim like us were the rebellious teenagers!  No wonder all of the old people were wearing shower caps and showering before they got in the pool! We just thought they were strange.  After this news we were a bit embarrassed and a bit bummed that we couldn’t keep diving unless we wore a stupid swim cap.  We had been there for a good 3 hours so we just decided to rinse off and leave.

But all in all we had a wonderful time swimming and soaking up the sun.  It was awesomeeeeeee.



My Egg Dilemma and an Italian Hoedown
June 27, 2010, 8:23 am
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Yesterday Amber and I woke up and started our normal routine of making eggs for breakfast.  I eat about 3 eggs for breakfast every morning and Amber eats 1-2.  Yesterday was special because after we had breakfast, Rita came in and started to collect all of the fresh eggs we collect from the chickens.  She then frantically asked us where all of the fresh eggs had gone and proceeded to ask us if we eat 9 eggs a day.  Amber told her no…only 6 lol.  Rita then freaked out and was like “I need 50 fresh eggs every week because I sell them to a client!”  Shit. We didn’t know.  And we had eaten roughly 40 fresh eggs over 1.5 weeks.  whoops.

She didn’t yell at us, she was just frustrated because she only had 22 eggs and she thought we were only eating 1 egg each per day.  But it really sucks for me because eating farm fresh eggs is one of the main reasons I was happy and excited to be living on a farm.  I was eager to stand behind a chicken, watching it pop out a super fresh egg, still warm even — and rush it to the kitchen to prepare my breakfast.  I mean, it doesn’t get more direct than that!  I LOVED being able to collect my own eggs and eat them right away.  It was the coolest thing ever.  Now, I’m not allowed to eat them at all and it really bums me out.  I can’t even bear the thought of collecting the eggs, knowing some other lucky chap gets to relish in the delight of a farm fresh egg and not me.  I died inside when I realized this fact.

Rita went to the store that day and bought about 5 dozen cheap eggs for us to eat.  I have no idea where in Italy they come from and I am not able to see them pop out of the chicken’s ass.  But I appreciate the thought of her buying them for us, to make sure we can continue to have eggs even though we can’t have the fresh ones.  But I’m still really bummed about the whole thing, and I’m trying to not think about it.

Later on in the evening we had to work in the restaurant for a group of Enrico’s friends who were coming to eat dinner and do line dancing outside!  They cleaned up the patio and set up hay bales and lights and a long table for people to eat.  Amber and I were super excited to watch Italians do American line dancing and we were eager to see what it would be like.

People started to shuffle in and they were all wearing cowboy boots and some form of plaid clothing and jeans.  They were decked out to the T in perfect cowboy attire.  That was freaking amazing.  Then we learned that the line dancing instructor was there and that she was from America — Missouri to be exact.  She was seriously the tallest person in the group, towering over everyone.  She was blond and thin and cute.  We didn’t talk to her at all but she did say a few things in English to let us know where she came from.  We saw that she had a ring on her finger so we were curious if she married an Italian or what brought her to Italy to teach line dancing.  I took some videos that I will be posting at a later time.  For now, here is a funny photo of the dancing — they really try to make line dancing sexier than it is, by shaking their hips a lot and kicking their legs up high. haha

I also tried my first Italian beer.  It was good but I’ll be sticking to Italian wine as much as I can.  Barb and Joe worked the grill all night, preparing some sausages that they made on the farm as well as hot dogs and pork chops.  The ventilator wasn’t working so well so Barb and Joe were sweating up a storm and their eyes were bloodshot from the smoke.  I felt bad for them!

The night as a whole made up for the shitty morning news of no more fresh eggs, so I guess the day balanced itself out.  The moon was full and creamy yellow, the music was hilarious country pop songs and the atmosphere was just perfect.  I kept going over to Amber, wrapping my arm around her and saying, “Can you believe this is our life? This moment right now?”  It really does amaze me, the things I am able to be a part of…



Italian Recipe #1: Pasta Freddo/Insalata di Pasta (Pasta Salad!)
June 26, 2010, 9:57 am
Filed under: Travel | Tags: , , , ,

I thought it would be fun to share the recipes I’m getting from the farm with you guys, so here is the first one I’ve written down.  Italian food is great because it uses simple ingredients to create super flavorful meals, and most dishes are really easy to make!  This recipe is one that Barb made up on the spot, and in the last moment decided to throw shredded coconut in it.  BRILLIANT!

Pasta Freddo/Insalata di Pasta

Ingredients:

  • Bowtie Pasta
  • Diced Cucumbers
  • Diced Tomatoes
  • Chopped Fresh Mozarella
  • Chopped Fresh Basil Leaves
  • Shredded Coconut (to taste)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (drizzle over top)
  • Sea Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper Spices (to taste)
  • Coriander Powder (to taste)

Ok, so basically you just gotta eyeball it like the Italians do. There were no measuring cups involved in this preparation, just hands and eyeballs.  So just mix all these things together and add the spices to your liking…

Obviously you need to prepare the pasta ahead of time and let it cool in the fridge.  Add a touch of EVOO to keep the noodles separated.

Serve cold and with a cute basil leaf on top!  Soooo yummy and so easy to make!




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