Give Brazil a Break – An Open Letter to the World on the 2016 Summer Olympics

A Spectacular 2016 Summer Olympics in a developing country.

Since the 1970’s, Brazil has been one of the most admired travel destinations. It is difficult to find another location that can compete with Brazil’s rich culture, history, and landscape. No other city of Rio de Janeiro’s size is so blessed by nature: sandwiched between lush tropical mountains and white sandy beaches with blue waters (yes, blue and clean), lies Rio de Janeiro.

For the 2016 Summer Olympics, journalists flocked to Rio, repeating, again and again, the same mantra and highlighting the problems in the city. That is why SouthAmerica.travel is writing this: Give Brazil a break! The media should not forget to report the positive changes that the Olympic Games have brought to Rio de Janeiro.

Is Brazil in a recession? Yes, but no recession lasts forever.
Is there income inequality? Yes, but the middle class has been growing strongly and continues to grow.
Are the waters polluted? Yes, but that is confined to a few, of the many, inland lagoons and the bay. The Atlantic waters and beaches are clean.
Is there corruption? Yes, but democracy is working, and corrupt politicians and managers of state-controlled companies are going to jail.

Then a list of unsolicited advice:

It was said that Rio should invest its money in other areas, not the Olympic Games. However, let’s not forget all the great changes that have come since Rio de Janeiro was selected as the host city.

The six years of the Cardoso government and the following eight years with Lula at the helm have profoundly changed the country. Literacy went up from the mid 70th percentile of the population to the upper 90’s. Does that mean that the public schools are perfect? No, however, education is free! Are students from public universities not always well-prepared? Yes, but graduates carry no debt. On average, kids go to school longer, and Brazil knows the investment is for the long-term – the situation cannot be remedied overnight. Before teachers educate kids, one must educate kids to become teachers. One cannot simply hire teachers, one must educate and train them. This applies even more to university professors … Brazil is developing its “body” of teachers and professors.

Brazil is a developing country in the original sense of the word.

The list continues: are public hospitals often overcrowded? Yes, but health care is free. Again, building new hospitals alone does not remedy the problem – one must educate and train a new generation of doctors.

“Brazil is developing, and Rio is not called the Marvelous City for nothing,” says Juergen Keller, CEO of SouthAmerica.travel

Let’s not overlook all the progress that Rio de Janeiro has made since being selected as the host city for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

The city built one hundred miles of a so-called BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) system, which consists of segregated bus lanes complete with stations, segregated bridges and many tunnels and operates rather like a light rail. This has dramatically reduced commutes for the poor.

The suburban train system has been 100% updated with air-conditioned trains, an important detail in a tropical country. A new subway line covers 10 miles and connects Barra to Copacabana, cutting rush hour commutes of 1.5 hours to just 17 minutes. This was the worst bottleneck in all of Rio. Additionally, a new light rail system relieves traffic in downtown and seamlessly connects to the domestic airport. New freeways have been added which were urgently needed in this metropolitan agglomeration of almost 12 million people, drastically improving commute times not only for cars but also for local buses and public transportation.

Rio has completely revitalized the downtown area and restored the beautiful waterfront and colonial buildings. The newly accessible waterfront is a magnet for tourists and locals alike. Services aimed at tourists, like restaurants and bars, provide additional work opportunities for the less-educated, for those that need jobs most.

Is there still “rampant” crime? Yes, and no. Since the city, state and federal government are working together, the situation has improved dramatically, and crime has been confined to specific areas of Rio. The Lochte incident happened in a very safe neighborhood of Rio, which immediately triggered suspicions among the cariocas. Nowadays, people walk along Copacabana at night, kids of all ages play on the beach until late, and ladies wear their jewelry again.

Is Brazil Switzerland? No. But remember, Brazil is a developing country, and it is developing. It is moving in the right direction in so many areas. So, give Brazil a break and enjoy it just as it is!

 

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Iguazu Falls Tours | Argentine vs. Brazilian Side of the Falls

Travel Consultant, Diego Silva, recently went on a trip to Iguazu Falls.  He visited both the Brazilian side and the Argentine side of Iguazu Falls. Read on for Diego’s first-hand account of the Best Iguazu Falls Tours.

iguazu Falls Tours

Iguassu, Iguazu, Iguaçu. No matter what spelling you use, it won’t change the fact that these falls are one of the most spectacular natural wonders that South America has to offer. And no trip to South America would be complete if you didn’t check out Iguazu Falls. The falls are divided into two national parks, one is located in Argentina and the other in Brazil, making them a great way to combine a multi-country tour.

The Brazilian Side – Iguazu Falls Tours

The Brazilian side of the falls is where all iPhone masters can use their panoramic camera feature.  Here you can admire a 360-degree view of the falls. This side of the park offers incredible views of the “devil’s throat,” which is where 50% of the falls’ water flows from. Because of the stunning features presented, Iguaçu National Park is more condensed than its twin in Argentina. However, that wouldn’t stop you from seeing the top of the Empire State Building or the Eiffel Tower. So grin and bear the crowds, because this side of the falls is certainly worth visiting.

Iguazu Falls Tours

If you’re looking for a quiet visit to the falls, then sign up for one of our half day private tours.  At the end of the trip, check out the cute bird-park also located in Foz do Iguassu.

Check out our Rio to Iguazu Falls Tour for more information on combining Brazil and Iguazu Falls.

The Argentine Side – Iguazu Falls Tours

After all this talk about the Brazilian side of the falls, have you forgotten about the Argentine side? Well, don’t! This side is just as impressive and extensive. The Argentine side of Iguazú National Park provides walkways that are located on both upper and lower levels, offering a wide variety of viewpoints from multiple angles.

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One great tour I recommend is a boat tour that takes you under the falls.  From the boat, you will enjoy an impressive view of the national park from a new perspective. Make sure to pack a protective camera case because everything in the boat will be soaked by the end. This was one of the most thrilling boat rides I have ever experienced and I highly recommend this excursion for any adventure seeker.    

Iguazu Falls Tours

Speaking of Paradise – Iguazu Falls Tours

If you still aren’t convinced that you need to visit Iguazu Fall, then picture this: a spectacular and complex system of water, with numerous waterfalls spreading through a wild luscious forest, a complete rainbow forming in the distance, flora and fauna coming together and birds flying above. A vision of paradise. How could you not go?

How to Get There – Iguazu Falls Tours

You can reach Iguazu Falls by air from both Brazil and Argentina. There are daily flights from Buenos Aires with LATAM Airlines and Aerolineas Argentinas. From the Brazilian side, you can fly directly from Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Daily flights are also available with GOL and LATAM.

Contact our experienced travel consultants today to create your own customized your trip to Iguazu Falls & the rest of South America.

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Brazil’s Booming Agriculture Tours | Brazil Farm Tours

When you hear Brazil, you immediately think of the endless beaches and the Amazon Rainforest. But, did you know that Brazil is also the global leader in sugar cane production and one of the top producers of soybeans, coffee beans, and beef?

You might be thinking, how does Brazil do it? Brazil’s diverse landscapes and temperate climate creates ideal conditions for crop production. Additionally, Brazil’s agricultural technological improvements draw hundreds of thousands of visitors every year to some of the largest agribusiness expositions in South America. If you are interested in Agriculture, you will want to read on to find out more about Brazil Farm Tours and South America Agriculture

Summertime is oh so fine – Brazil Farm Tours

Summer in South America is the best time to experience Brazil’s thriving agricultural industry. From October through April, witness the planting, irrigation, and growing period of the crops up close. Harvest season for soybeans begins in January and February, so this is also an excellent time to visit.

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If you’re specifically interested in learning about Brazil’s farming industry and want to meet like-minded farmers, then attend the large exhibitions listed below. The most popular are the Coopavel Show Rural in February and the Expo Londrina Agricultural Show in April. These expositions will teach you new techniques to improve your crop and livestock production process.

Brazil’s Farming Expositions – Brazil Farm Tours

#1. Coopavel Show Rural – Brazil Farm Tours

In February, the Coopavel Show Rural takes place in Cascavel, Paraná. Paraná’s renowned fertile and temperate climate makes for impressive agricultural production. They specialize in growing sugarcane, soybean, cocoa, tropical fruits, and livestock. Along with nearby Mato Grosso, Paraná produces more than half of the country’s soybean supply.
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The Coopavel Show Rural draws more than 200,000 visitors each year, due to its expansive network of global farmers and appearances of leading names in Brazil’s agribusiness sector. The primary purpose of the exposition is to educate farmers about the modernization of farming and cattle raising. The show in 2016 provided more than 480 exhibitors specializing in the latest technologies used to cultivate, irrigate, and harvest crops throughout the region.

After attending the Coopavel Show Rural, take a visit to the nearby Iguazu Falls. Marvel at the sprawling Iguazu Falls that create the border between Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.

Brazil Farm Tours

The Coopavel Show Rural will take place February 6-10, 2017. If you’re interested in visiting the Coopavel Show Rural to learn more about Brazil’s farming industry, contact one of our travel consultants to start planning your custom agricultural tour today.

View Brazil Farm Tours >> 

#2. Expo Londrina Agricultural Show – Brazil Farm Tours

In April, the Expo Londrina Agricultural Show is held in Londrina, Paraná. Londrina was once the coffee production capital of the country. The city continues its legacy in Brazil’s farming economy with the annual tradeshow. The weeklong show highlights the latest technology used in the agribusiness. There were over 500,000 attendees in 2016, making it one of the largest expositions in South America.

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While at Expo Londrina visit the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, EMBRAPA. EMBRAPA creates sustainable development practices for the farming industry through advanced technology. They also research biodiesel production using soybeans and produce more than 400 liters of fuel each day.

In addition to learning about new production techniques, make sure to save some free time. Because throughout the week, there are rodeos, art exhibitions, and concerts from big name artists.

Additional South America Agriculture Highlights

#1. IAPAR: The Agronomic Institute of Paraná – Brazil Farm Tours

Also located in Londrina are the headquarters of IAPAR, the Agronomic Institute of the Paraná. IAPAR studies experimental farming practices used in Paraná. They specialize in guidelines for environmentally conscious production standards for high quality and healthy food.

#2: COAMO: Agroindustrial Farming Cooperative – Brazil Farm Tours

To end your tour, visit the largest farming cooperative in South America, COAMO Agroindustrial Cooperative. COAMO Cooperative supports over 25,000 farmers around the region and allows farmers to share costs for the processing and storage of crops.

The Expo Londrina Agricultural Show will be held April 5-15, 2017 so contact one of our travel consultants today to start planning your fully customizable Agriculture Tour in South America.

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How to Visit Machu Picchu in Style

While the pyramids of Egypt have been visited by tourists for millennia, the stone citadel of Machu Picchu has barely known fame for a century. Even so, Peru’s most famous destination now draws travelers of all types, and getting there and back in style can be easily arranged. Time-wise, visiting Machu Picchu can be done in as few as four days, or as long as 10. Below I highlight the best options for each stage along your route to Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu is open year-round. To visit, most travelers stay a minimum of one night in Lima, and two nights in Cuzco or the Sacred Valley. Reaching Lima from the US can take fewer than seven hours coming from Houston, and flying Business on those longer routes can be quite enjoyable. We have an office in Lima, which means our local operators are available 24/7 if any issues were to arise. It also means our local English speaking guides know all the secrets about Peru.

Lima – visit Machu Picchu 

You’ve reached Lima, and you can either fly an hour and a half to Cuzco the next morning or take advantage of what Peru’s capital has to offer. If you wish to move on to Cuzco, we recommend staying at the Costa del Sol Wyndham Lima Airport Hotel. That way, you avoid any 45-minute transfers into the city. But most people spend a day or two in Lima, and there are several popular tours worth including in your itinerary.

Lima City Tour & Larco Museum

This is for those interested in history and culture. As you begin in the famous Plaza de Armas, you will recall Lima used to be the center of the Spanish Empire. From there you visit the oldest library in Latin America, the catacombs, the San Francisco Monastery and the Larco Museum. With over 45,000 objects and the finest precious metals collection in Peru, this is one of those museums you don’t want to miss. You finish with a view of the Pacific Ocean, in modern Miraflores.

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Lima Culinary Tour with Dinner

This one’s for the foodies. Lima today is known for its world-class gastronomy, with African, European, Chinese, and Japanese influences. In the past five years several restaurants in Lima have been recognized as among The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. You will learn to make a pisco sour, prepare an Amazon-inspired ceviche, and enjoy dinner in an archaeological complex. You finish with desert in the bohemian Barranco district.

Nazca Lines from Lima (Full Day) In Group

This is a great tour for ancient culture aficionados. Lima exists along Peru’s desert coastline, and further south you will find the gigantic geoglyphs known as the Nazca Lines. These mysterious designs can be identified from the air, which is intriguing considering they were created over 1,500 years ago. This is a full day tour, and if you have time we recommend spending a night in Nazca to break up the driving and so you can continue from there up to Arequipa, Peru’s most beautiful city.

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Recommended Lima Hotels

The JW Marriott is exquisite, with panoramic views of the capital. For a more boutique feel, Hotel B is your best bet. Located in the up and coming Barranco district, and doubling as an art gallery, you will not want to leave.

Cuzco – visit Machu Picchu 

You’ve made it to the high Andes at over 11,000ft, where travelers used to sea level are wise to drink lots of water as well as the local coca tea. If you’re not sure how you’ll do at altitude, we recommend spending at least your first night almost 2,000ft lower in the nearby Sacred Valley. Most people do fine, however, and learn to take it all in (a slower) stride. Many hotels offer oxygen bars to help you acclimate.

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Keep in mind it’s easy to visit other fascinating parts of Peru from Cuzco. The Amazon rainforest is a mere 45-minute flight to the east. For train lovers, the elegant Andean Explorer takes you on a day-long journey, lunch included, to the highest navigable body of water in the world: Lake Titicaca. While you’re in Cuzco, here are a couple of must-do tours.

Cuzco City & Nearby Ruins

This half-day tour is perfect for your first day in what was the capital of the Incan Empire. With Spanish and Incan architecture at every turn, you will visit some of the most spectacular buildings in all of Peru. Moving outside of Cuzco, you will explore the site of Saksaywaman, an Incan complex that enthralled the conquistadors. They were amazed by the precision and scale of the stonework, describing how “they were so close together…that the point of a pin could not have been inserted in one of the joints.”

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Pisac Market & Ollantaytambo

Halfway between Cuzco and Machu Picchu lies the Sacred Valley, a region of many fascinating Incan sites, and where Peruvians still live today. Your first stop is Pisac, famous for its market where locals from around the region sell their wares, including clothing made from alpaca wool. After lunch, visit the town of Ollantaytambo. The abandoned ruins are impressive, and the town just below them has been in continuous operation since the time of the Incas.

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Recommended Cuzco & Sacred Valley Hotels

The Aranwa Cusco Boutique Hotel fits in with its surroundings, built in a colonial mansion from the 16th century with unique art. It is half a block from the main plaza, and there is plenty for you to see within walking distance. The Aranwa Sacred Valley Hotel & Wellness is also in a colonial hacienda, but this one is at a lower elevation in a peaceful neck of the valley. Everything about this place is exceptionally comfortable.

Trains to Machu Picchu

You are nearly at Machu Picchu, but the only easy way there is first to arrive in Aguas Calientes by train. We arrange two different types of trains: The Vistadome and the Belmond Hiram Bingham. The Vistadome is a two-hour journey along the Urubamba River from the high Andean plateau in Cuzco to the cloud forests surrounding Aguas Calientes. The train has a glass ceiling and is a lovely ride. But for a silver service affair on the Hiram Bingham, it is well worth the extra cost. You will enjoy brunch on the outbound journey and dinner on the return of this luxury experience. There is live music, two dining cars, a bar car, and an observation car.

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Aguas Calientes – visit Machu Picchu 

You step off the train in Aguas Calientes, the closest town to Machu Picchu. If you are on a day trip from Cuzco to see the ruins, you will be whisked up the mountain to the entrance of Machu Picchu. Many travelers prefer to spend a night in Aguas Calientes, to allow an extra day at Machu Picchu. That extra day can be spent a number of different ways, one of which is so you can hike or bus to the entrance to view Machu Picchu at dawn. Imagine arriving as the mists still encircle the mysterious, stone citadel. This place was never discovered by the Spanish.

Recommended Aguas Calientes Hotel

At the enchanting Hotel Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo, you will find interesting flora and fauna. There is an orchid garden, information for birders, and a tour to see rescued spectacled bears on the property. There is also a jacuzzi, pool, and sauna.

Recommended Machu Picchu Hotel

There is no better hotel in all of South America which better exemplifies the phrase “location, location, location.” The 5-star Belmond Sanctuary Lodge is the only hotel overlooking Machu Picchu, and one of those rare places totally worth the splurge. Located mere feet from the entrance to Machu Picchu, This the site where researchers stayed in the years after Machu Picchu’s rediscovery. A stay at the Sanctuary Lodge includes all meals as well as select drinks. Even if you choose to stay down in Aguas Calientes, you can still include lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge during your extra day at Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu – visit Machu Picchu 

You made it! Upon your first view, you will understand why Machu Picchu was voted one of the new seven wonders of the world. This is arguably the most fascinating place in all of South America. If you have time, there are several treks which bring you through the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu by foot, including the historical Inca Trek and the lesser known Salkantay Trek. You can visit as a day trip from Cuzo, but to make the most of your trip to we recommend spending an extra day. Here are a few ways to get the most out of that extra day.

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Hike Huayna Picchu

For the most exciting hike, consider Huayna Picchu. Follow the Incan trail an hour and a half to the top, over 1,000ft above Machu Picchu and one of the best 360 degree views period. This should be arranged several months in advance, as spaces fill up quickly.

Hike Machu Picchu Montaña

This is a more gradual climb than the steep trail to Huayna Picchu. Machu Picchu Montaña leads you an hour and a half to the mountain’s peak. Incan priests once performed rituals here on special dates. Needless to say, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime view overlooking Machu Picchu and the surrounding Andes. You can muse on the history of the Incas, and wonder at how this place remained undiscovered for so long, or simply think back over what a memorable trip you’ve had.

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Best Times to Travel to Peru

Peru is a fabulous destination to visit year round, but depending on where you want to go and what you would like to do determines the best time to visit. Read on for the best times to travel to Peru.

Dry Season: May – September
Best Times to Travel to Peru

During the months, May – September, Peru has their “dry season.” The dry season is considered to be the best time to visit Peru. By May, the rain has started to cease in the Andes and Peru becomes a destination for adventures. The sun starts to shine brighter, and the sky becomes a little bluer. With hot shimmering days and cool crisp nights, tourists enjoy boating trips on Lake Titicaca, trekking passed snowcapped mountains, and hiking the Inca Trail.

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During these months, it’s considered winter. And winter in Cusco is beautiful. The weather is dry, and the streets are full of vibrant outdoor festivals. It’s a perfect time to take a walking tour through the city or make your way to Machu Picchu. June and August are typically the most popular months to travel to Peru.

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But unfortunately, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Due to the warm air complemented by cool breezes, this weather screams peak season. There will be an increased amount of travelers exploring the iconic sites, meaning hotel accommodations and activities are more expensive. If you want to visit Peru anytime between May – September, make sure to book early! That way you can secure your travel and hotel accommodations.

Wet Season: December – March
Best Times to Travel to Peru 

December through March is considered Peru’s “wet season,” which is full of rain showers. If you’re from Seattle, this might not be a shock to you. But for those of you coming from the beaches of Southern California or the ranches of Texas, you might want to stick to the dry season.

While you can still trek to Machu Picchu, note that the Inca Trail closes during the month of February due to maintenance. Also, the rain does leave the trail muddy and difficult to hike.

But don’t let the rain scare you! Without the moisture of the raindrops, Peru would not flourish with such vibrancy. The heavy rainfall creates an abundance of greenery and colorful scenery. And because this season is not the most popular, you are more likely to be subjected to fewer crowds, reduced hotel rates, and comfortable 60-degree daytime temperatures.

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Also, the rain does not cause the country to shut down. There is still so much you can do and see! For instance, Cusco is still as lively as it is during the dry season. You can enjoy colorful fiestas during this time, including Carnaval and La Virgin de la Candelaria.

Unpredictable: April – November
Best Times to Travel to Peru

April through November are the months of mysterious weather. These months are unpredictable because they are right before and right after the wet season. Typically, we find that during these months you will see a little bit of rain, but on average, the temperatures will be around 60 degrees’.  This is a great time to visit Peru if you want to avoid some of the crowds and expensive hotel rates.

Location, Location, Location
Best Times to Travel to Peru

Cusco: The most popular time to visit Cusco is between June and August. If you go during this time, it will be peak season with a lot of hungry sight-seeing tourists. That being said, we recommend visiting Cusco during April, May, September, or October. These are the times right after and before the rainy season, and you can avoid large tourist crowds.

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Lima: It almost never rains in Lima, but it does tend to get cold due to the humidity between June and August. The sky is usually overcast with a slight layer of fog, but if you venture towards the central mountains, you will be able to roll up your sleeves as you find the sun.

The Amazon Jungle: The rainforest of Peru has a sub-tropical climate and from October – April it rains most of the time. Humidity runs high in the rainforest throughout the year. During the dry season, from July to December, there is intense heat and the lakes and rivers tend to recede. If you love early mornings of fishing or hiking, the dry season would be the best time to visit.

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The Coast: During the months, November – March, Lima will be hot and humid. But along the coast, it will be perfectly warm, sunny, and a great temperature in the ocean for a long swim.

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The Highlands: If you’re a Cali-baby, you can appreciate the fact that the sun is always out in the highlands. But take note that when the sun falls, the temperature goes down with it. Make sure to bring lots of layers with you to the Highlands. You will need them when the warm afternoon disappears into a cold winter night!

Try to Pack it All – Best Times to Visit Peru

Pretend you’re the Carrie Bradshaw of Peru because you will need numerous outfits to be fully prepared. No matter what time of the year you plan to visit, it is important to pack a variety of clothing. During the summer season, you must pack lightweight clothing and sandals for the coast. During the winter, make sure to have fleece, thermals, hats, gloves, and warm jackets. If you’re traveling through the jungle, make sure to pack some waterproof and protective gear, as well as some boots.

Start Planning Now 

Our experienced travel consultants are ready to help you as soon as you decide when you want to travel to Peru. If the dry season seems to be a winner, start planning now. The popularity of this season results in less availability of flights and accommodations.

Once you have chosen a time that best suits your interests, talk to our travel consultants about customizing your vacation to Peru. No matter the season you choose, you are bound to have a wonderful time.

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