Dominica Travel Guides for Backpackers

Experience the Beauty and Paradise of the Dominican Republic!

If you are a lover of exploring the beauty of nature, then the Dominican Republic is one of the most adventurous countries in the Caribbean island that should be on top of your list. The country is on Hispaniola Island and it is the second largest Caribbean island, after Cuba. Santo Domingo ranks as the top city in the country. A travel to the Dominican Republic will involve a range of adventurous activities whose fond memories will be stuck in your mind forever, and it will bring a smile to your face always. This tropical paradise, which is also the Caribbean’s top tourist destination, has it all when it comes to nature trails, a rich culture, vast sandy, and lustrous beaches, hike spots, whale watching, and attractive national parks. It is the home of the Caribbean’s tallest mountain peak, Pico Duarte. Additionally, it is said to be the only country to have an image of the Holy Bible on their national flag. Traveling to the Dominican Republic was the most incredible travel experience I have ever had my entire life. The trip filled with action and excitement summarizes the vacation. Come with me and will I tell you why…   Nature Trails Waitukubuli National Trail It is also known as WNT. It comprises of wooded, mountainous and grassy forests, and it passes through beautiful scenic views and livestock farms. This trail is marked with paints of blue and yellow to signify how far apart they are. If you happen to visit the WNT, make sure that you have a guide to take you through the trails. Since the WNT is mountainous with steep climbs, those interested in hiking should ensure that your hiking boots are in good condition.   Boiling Lake In the entire world, the Dominican Republic has the second largest boiling lake. Getting to see the boiling lake might require some work since the terrain is rocky with steep climbs, thus it is not for the faint-hearted. This is because the trail itself depends on how strong and willed one is. The best scenario is seeing the boiling sections in different colors, that is, yellow, gray and black. Since some parts of the trails are not marked, it would be advisable for one to have a guide. I happened to have a guide who was so knowledgeable about nature and wildlife.   Saltos de Jima Head over to Saltos de Jima and immerse yourself in a cool and thrilling waterfall, that drops your body temperature from hot to cool. There is a wonderful guide that walks you to the waterfalls for twenty minutes long, while you learn about the different plant lives that exist in the Dominican Republic. Before reaching the waterfalls, there are a few places to stop and take a quick dip. The seven waterfalls enhance the beauty of its surroundings, where there is nature at its best. What makes Saltos de Jima more exciting is that the entrance is free.   Whale Watching It has been […]

Dominican Republic: The Perfect Holiday Destination

I found myself living in the Paradise. Yes, in the Dominican Republic, maybe you don’t know it as the Dominican Republic but I’m pretty sure you have heard about Punta Cana. Well, we are more than that. This part of the island with a little bit less than 11 million inhabitants is the second largest Caribbean nation by area after Cuba and is ready to satisfy all your needs in this tropical vacation gateway for both locals and internationals. Experience the First Country in the New World The Dominican Republic was the first country in America to be being discovered, the first seat of the Spanish colonial rule in the New World.  For this reason, we can offer you a great variety of first experiences, such as First Cathedral of America, First University, First Christian Church, Fort, HISTORY. We are a country colonized by Spaniards which we have many similar traditions and historical, tourist and architectural legacies. But that is only part of the incredible experience in this island, where we live in eternal summer and, well, Constanza and Jarabacoa may be more like spring, but that is another subject that I will cover in a bit. The Dominican Republic has some of the best beaches in the world, virgin beaches, surf beaches, islands, cays … Surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, this island is simply magnificent with its white sand beaches and coral. Within my list of favorite beaches are Bahía de las Águilas, San Rafael Barahona, and Cayo Arena. A MUST VISIT while in the Dominican Republic.   More than Eternal Summer As I already mentioned about our spring weather, CONSTANZA and JARABACOA, they have been part of our lungs, our little piece of green on the island, where you can escape and breath fresh mountain air, to ride a mountain bike, a hike among friends, a camping in Las Pirámides, and definitely a cold river bath. In that little camp where you can have freshly roasted coffee and where its inhabitants will want you to take what they do not have. GENEROSITY and HUMILITY, I could not choose better words to describe these people of the Dominican Republic.   Dominicans care about Food We are FOOD, the Dominican will look for any excuse to make a Sancocho, (by the way, do not forget the avocado), For lovers of meat this is a definite yes that they must experience while visiting this piece of land in the world. We have food that depends on the region, so you will always have something new to try. A Chivo Stew with Yuca, a fried fish in Boca Chica, those Minutas in Samaná, a Chechen with avocado in the South, Pasteles en Hojas at Christmas time, and a Corn or Beans with sweet in Easter. Getting to know the Culture through the Food  will depend on the date you are visiting We are CULTURE: it depends on the date you visit our island is very likely that we have a cultural activity, a long weekend, or […]

Playa Blanca beach in the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican Republic is the place where your paradise beach dreams will definitely come true, and yes, we are talking about Punta Cana, the destination you've always dreamed of for your vacations. I'm talking about the hot tropical weather, blue skies, turquoise waters and white sands. Punta Cana is located to the east of the Dominican Republic Island and it is known to be one of the most beautiful destinations in the Caribbean. Playa Blanca in Punta Cana. With just a few kilometers Playa Blanca is one of the most beautiful beach spots on the east side of the island and all the Dominican Republic itself, located at the Punta Cana Resort & Club. You'll see palm trees anywhere you turn your view, the sand on your feet it's so warm that makes you feel relaxed the moment you step on it and the water, just not too cold and not too warm, feels like a touch of life when you dive yourself into it. The beach is very calm, you can go there with your family, a group of friends, have a nice time as a couple or just go to relax on your own. It is the perfect landscape to take great photos and videos, find inner peace and inspiration, or just lay in the sand with your favorite book. When you get in the water you can walk for minutes and the water won't go over your knees, which is great for me when I decide to bring a drink with me. The beach club. One of the most wonderful things about Playa Blanca beach is their beach club called Playa Blanca Restaurant. They are open from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. every day,  that means that you don't have to worry about bringing food or beverages since they have it all covered. They also offer little spaces such as tables, chair longs and beach beds for you to spend the day and enjoy the view, beautiful and super clean bathrooms and a shower just in case you'd like to take off the sand when you're leaving. The club has different areas depending on what is your mood for the day, you can choose to sit at a table inside the restaurant or you can go straight to the bar. It is a perfect place for dinner as well and, most of the times,  you can have lunch or dinner listening to a live band or singer as well as great music if there isn't anyone performing at the time. Everyone at the beach club is super friendly, from the waiters to the bartenders, everyone will treat you with a smile all day, I think that is one of the reasons I feel just like home when I'm there. They also have transportation schedules from your hotel to the beach and back if you are staying at the Punta Cana Resort & Club complex. Food and beverages. What to eat? The menu at the beach club is a delicious combination of the Dominican Republic flavors […]

Santo Domingo: A Tale of Two Cities

Before I moved abroad to the wonderfully grey England skies, I lived 18 years in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Blue skies, warm people, and extremely warm weather. My childhood was sitting under the shade of the mango tree at my grandpa's house, while gleefully – of course, enjoying a mango. Because I lived in Santo Domingo for so long I never had the chance of seeing my city through a tourist's eye. This past summer my very German boyfriend came to visit, and I think I saw a new Santo Domingo thanks to him. The nuances became pleasures. The food I'd been having for lunch every day, suddenly turned into a delicacy, the ordinary pilsner beer was worthy of international praise, and the old part of the city became new. Santo Domingo is one of those cities in disguise. It might look like the perfect destination for shoppers and big spenders as there is every luxury brand you could think of. But there is also plenty of room for the laid-back travellers. There are layers to this city, and I have only scratched the surface. The Colonial Zone The Colonial Zone, where Columbus and the rest of the Spanish used to reside, has turned into the place to be. It is the perfect clash of young culture and tradition. During the day there is plenty to see, as the area is filled with ruins, museums and the national pantheon! Not only that, but the Colonial Zone is where the independence of the country was declared. You can stand right where it happened. The first cathedral of the Americas, featuring a Gothic style inside, is open to the public as well. It is a must see. The art scene is also very vivid. Walking along the narrow streets many art galleries can be found, if not the artists themselves selling their pieces. This year's Dominican Fashion Week was celebrated there, and once again the Colonial Zone served the development of Dominican art and design. At night, however, the area puts on its best party suit and turns up the music. This type of bar hopping has nothing to do with London's pub crawling. Here you dance from place to place, there is no crawling involved, except when you get into bed. Once you have a Presidente beer and slowly drink two more, dancing to typical salsa or merengue comes as a second nature. The party is never over, the shore is not far from there, and walking by shore after dancing all night as the sun comes up, is a great memory to hold on to. There are wonderful colonial houses, hostels, and hotels all over the area. It is so easy to be transported immediately from the chaotic Downtown Santo Domingo. The Colonial Zone remains true to the Dominican culture by highlighting what makes the country unique. It has open arms and welcomes everyone. It has been the home of many political movements, and at the same time, at night, […]

Santo Domingo, the first city of the 'New World'

If you have ever been captivated by the beauty of The Americas, you have probably wondered about the moment in history in which such a culturally rich continent collided with the western world. Yes, we all know about Christopher Columbus' exploits, but do you know about The America's first continuously inhabited European settlement? Founded in 1498 by Christopher's brother (Bartholomew Columbus), Santo Domingo, the capital city of what is now the Dominican Republic, holds the title of the first European city in the Americas. A title that its citizens hold with pride, mainly because they know how it feels to be the first at having cultural wonders that served as cornerstones for the development of the New World and taking into account that around 1502 Santo Domingo was officially the headquarters for the exploration and conquest of the New World, can you blame them?. It is also worth noting that Santo Domingo is home to the first Cathedral and University of the Americas. Can you still experience these cultural wonders? Thanks to the continuous hard work of the Dominican people, a fairly vast amount of the ancient colonial area is still intact, we know it as the ''The Colonial City'', a place so important that the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) placed it on its World Heritage list in 1990. Columbus Park, located at the very end of the famous Conde Street. The Colonial City is a small town located within a 104.44 km2 municipality with a population of 1,402,749, this municipality is known as the Distrito Nacional (National District), which in turn is located within the boundaries of the Great Santo Domingo municipal association. As I mentioned before, Santo Domingo's Colonial City is home to The America's first Cathedral, better known as Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor. This place is a piece of history that is open to the public as well as a great pilgrimage opportunity for those who follow the Catholic faith. Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor, located right beside Columbus' Park. So far I have told you about some of the most famous places in The America's first city, but even though experiencing such a culturally rich experience might seem like a once in a lifetime opportunity for most people, by now you might be wondering: ''Cultural experiences are great, but what about the fun, the nightlife, the beautiful people and the breathtaking beaches that the Caribbean is known for?''. Do not worry, mate, we will get there. Get ready for some of the best beaches of the Caribbean Even though you have very likely figured it out by now, the first city of The Americas is located in the heart of the Caribbean. This region is universally known for its friendly people, warm weather and, of course, its breathtaking beaches. Dominicans at Boca Chica's beach. Boca Chica's beach (at approximately 30 minutes by car from Santo Domingo) is one of the most popular beaches of […]

Santo Domingo: traffic chaos and the Dominican passion

HISPAÑOLA AND SANTO DOMINGO Avenida Espana looking towards the city For all of you who are not completely sure what or where that is; Santo Domingo is in the capital of the second biggest island in the Caribbean, right after Cuba. The island is now officially called Hispañola, due to Peter Martyr d'Anghiera (with his apparently bad Spanish thinking it means 'small Spain') who changed its name from La Española – as Christopher Columbus named it in 1492. Dominican Republic is sharing the island with Haiti and as most of neighboring countries they are not precisely fond of each other. This beautifully chaotic Dominican Republic and it's Santo Domingo is one of the oldest inhabited European settlement in the Americas – as you might have guessed, yes, it was colonized by the Spanish. And OH MY GOD, what a history and passion it has. beautiful cathedral in Colonial zone     ARRIVING TO SANTO DOMINGO amazing taxi in Colonial zone When you arrive to Santo Domingo, driving from the airport, you can already see the city's passion as the view on your left. The high road takes you along the sea shore the entire way to the city. There are huge rocks, almost like cliffs with normally emerald blue ocean water (that is of course if there were no hurricanes). You can see the passion of the waves hitting the rocks and the water foaming, not to mention the pretty tall palm trees and coconut trees along the road reminding you just arrived to paradise. Since this is the Caribbean side of the island, the rain comes rarely (that is of course if there were no hurricanes) and we constantly have sunny, hot days. You can see the city with tall buildings getting closer, and when you finally reach the edge of the city, well, the enthusiasm dies a bit. You end up on a road that makes NO SENSE whatsoever, there are like 5 or six lanes, but you couldn’t be really sure, since there are NO lines drawn on the road. Yes, I advise you to get a taxi driver while you are staying here; it will save you some of the stress in the traffic chaos. The enthusiasm returns for a while when you reach Juan Bosch bridge. Huge construction that divides the city into 2 parts: the fancy part (over the bridge) and the less fancy part (viz. 'poor part' before crossing the bridge). The bridge is truly lovely, as long as you are not trying to cross it in rush hours; that is in the morning around 8am and in the afternoons around 5pm. Just as you cross the Ozama River you should immediately go to your left. That's where the true magic lies. COLONIAL ZONE. Officially declared as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. If you ask me, without it, the city just wouldn't be worth seeing much.   COLONIAL ZONE AND GRINGOS Shopping in El conde All the historical monuments, narrow streets, authentic shopping, amazing bars and astonishing buildings, really bring magic to the city. This is also known as 'the foreigners' area', where […]

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: PARADISE IN PUNTA CANA

At the beach   At the Cave           Street vendors In 2009, I was fortunate to combine work and play in the sun-swept resort of Iberostar PUNTA CANA  in the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC. As a professional tennis coach, I applied for a teaching gig through a site named vacationing coaches which catered to professionals at various Caribbean resorts for a maximum two week stay. I was torn between DOMINICAN REPUBLIC and Jamaica, however, after a coin toss-up I was heading to the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC in style. Fortunately as a tennis professional all my expenses were paid albeit my flight.  My assignment was straightforward:  As the visiting tennis pro I was to teach guests ranging from beginners to advanced for two hours a day. After teaching  it was my time to not only relax but to explore the resort and beyond. I vividly remember arriving at Punta Cana International Airport back in July 2009, It had a real party atmosphere to it and upon arrival guests were met by a live band playing Merengue music which is a style of Dominican music and dance. In addition, arriving guests were welcomed by local dancers who showcased their moves to the beat of the drum. IBEROSTAR PUNTA CANA Iberostar Punta Cana is absolutely breathtaking! As a guest you have everything to your avail from live entertainment, beach parties, a fitness gym and an array of  local and International cuisine. The resort offers buffet and a la carte restaurants which I would say was delicious, exquisite and FRESH. From Fruits, plaintains, fish, empandas and chicken, I could go on and on but you might salivate whilst reading my blog so best you experience it for yourself. I honestly could not stop eating at the breakfast table, lunch and at dinner. I was usually the first one to arrive for dinner and also the last one to leave. Oh, I forgot to mention the sandy white beaches, which surprisingly was not packed for the time of year.The beaches are super clean, and for the first time in years I was able to disconnect from the outside world for a couple of hours which was pure tranquility. There is something for everyone at this resort, if you wish for peace you get that, if one wishes for adventure there is plenty of that too.   WHAT TO DO IN THE CITY Excursions I signed up for the excursions, which included horseback riding, quad biking and a visit to the Hoyo Azul cave which is a natural pool with crystal clear blue water, formed at the base of a giant cliff. I did not have the balls to jump in but it is definitely on the bucket list for my next visit. The quad bikes were amazing, it actually drizzled that day but that did not curb my excitement. The horseback riding was also a memorable experience. The Basilica Cathedral & nightlife During the excursion, I met a native by the name of Johnnie […]

How Dominical, Costa Rica Changed My Life Forever

Changed Forever by Dominical Back to the Daily grind Travel is necessary to the wellbeing of one’s state of mind amidst the demands of society in today’s day and age. Have you ever felt so completely lost in the habituality of your day to day that it seemed as if you were actually living in a dream world? One of those dream worlds that are really messed up and scary, and keeps happening over and over and over!? Well I was there once- but it wasn’t a dream. I had allowed myself to be swayed and swindled into a life that I didn’t want to be a part of. However, instead of admitting defeat and giving up, or grueling on in utter agony and continuing forth as a drone amidst a colony of content, programmable robots, I decided to make a change. A change so big, it would rock my world in ways I couldn’t even dream possible in the dreary dream I was living in. Dealing with stuff Months prior to the realization of this, I had returned home to the states from a four-month- long journey through the Americas. Upon my arrival back, I felt excited to step back into my apartment as I hadn’t seen any of my cherished possessions in what seemed like ages. My paintings, my knick knacks, my guitars, and my couches, all begging in my mind to be held and gazed upon once again from their long lost friend. The drive home from the airport seemed longer than usual, probably due to the fact that I was exhausted and anxious to be in my own bed again. Finally, I stepped foot into my house, filled with exuberance, yet weary from the road- I plopped my bags down, walked straight to my big comfy couches, plopped myself down on that, and gazed around at the eclectic arrangement of stuff filling my place. Some wisdom about traveling with instruments I reached over and grabbed my old guitar which I had left behind during my travels. I had decided to bring my newer, nicer one along with me on my trip, which I was now regretting as the moisture had messed with its playablility a bit. For anyone plotting on bringing your instruments with you travelling, be sure to invest in a humidification/dehumidification system to preserve the integrity of the instrument’s wood. As I plucked away at the strings on my old guitar, I delighted to feel the familiar vibrations and tones of my old friend. After relaxing and eating some food, I spent the rest of the night unpacking. Clothes piled around my room, random gear stacked on my counter tops and kitchen table. I was beat and ready for bed, and the reorganization of my things could wait for another day. I decided sleep was more important than a clean house. Uneasy Sleeper As I lay in bed, something felt strange. It was good to be in my familiar sheets again, and laying on […]

Dominica Island: Living like a local in Giraudel Village, the Flower Town.

I have always dreamed of finding the ultimate natural place to live in, a place where I could be surrounded by trees and flowers and where the sun shone all the time. It seemed just a dream, but in 2008 I met the person who is now my husband and then he invited me to visit his homeland Dominica … I was planning to stay only three months , and now I have more than eight years living in the place of my dreams. OK, I went a little too poetic at the end, but this island REALLY is my dreamland! So, where is Dominica Island? Dominica … Dominica … You might be wondering in which part of the world this country is located…  I did, too. Before I met my husband (who is a local singer and farmer here), I had no idea of the existence of this place. I have never heard of this hidden paradise with so much rich cultural history and traditions to share and learn from. People get confused all the time between Dominica and the Dominican Republic, but they are actually quite different … Some of the differences that I think are more obvious are that Dominica is a smaller island compared to the Dominican Republic and that people here don´t speak Spanish, but they speak English and Creole (a mix between English, French, German and African). Also, the Dominican Republic is more advanced than Dominica in terms of infrastructure and entertainment facilities like malls, movie teathers, parks and so on. Although Dominica is located in the Caribbean and it is a part of the Windward Islands, it is unique and stands out from its neighbor islands: It is much more quiet and peaceful (everything closes at 8 P.M. sharp), there are not luxury re-known hotels like the Hilton or the Eurobuilding, but instead there are small 5 stars hotels and villages that have nothing to envy from them, the air is fresher, and it is like you went 10 years back in time in comparison with other islands like Guadalupe, Barbados or Trinidad. Out-of-a-movie landscapes. Dominica is considered the “natural island of the Caribbean,” and for a good reason: the land is full of green spaces to visit, you can still find spring water streams, the wildlife is very diverse, the sun shines most of the time, there are original black sand beaches, magnificent waterfalls, more than 360 rivers and it even has active volcanoes! The island also offers one of the best diving places in the world! Diving in the coral reefs of Dominica is a one in a lifetime experience you cannot miss. There is a mystical connection between the landscape above the island and the one below the water. Divers can see the continuation from the mountains to the underwater cliffs … It is just magical! If you are a lover of fish, sea creatures and sailing; whale and dolphin watching are there for you, and turtle watching too! I could keep telling you about […]

La Romana, Casa de Campo Piece of Paradise

The Dominican Republic has a reputation for being a paradise on earth thanks to its incredible beaches, vibrant culture, and seafood! For me, DR truly lived to this expectation! I had an excellent chance to experience some of the finest things Dominican Republic has to offer and may I say one of the most tranquil experiences. The most popular spot and easiest destination to fly to is Punto C?na and the area is totally nice to visiting but I want to take you to the another area worth exploring. La Romana is located only 40 min away from Punto Cana airport taken the highway. Itself La Romana is a small town but gives a name for the whole area around  including Casa de Campo huge gated luxurious resort and resort communities Bayahibe and Dominicus. I had the privilege to call Casa de Campo home for the significant amount of time and love to share my experience. Casa De Campo Casa de Campo is something of the unique case. It is rather a large luxury gated residential community/ resort. You need a car to get around large. Essentially Casa de Campo is a town on its own with countless restaurants, supermarket,  movie theater,  beach and transfers to the nearby island. Casa de Campo has a hotel as well as countless villas some costing up to 10 million dollars.  The territory is incredibly green, beautiful and very well maintained. Every trip to a town outside the gates feels like a trip to a different universe. Casa de Campo is a beautiful bubble does not matter which time of year it is incredibly green and there is always blooming around. And not to mention many many mango trees with fruits within the reach!  My first week at the resort I was posting tons of pictures with tropical greenery and blossom I believe I become a hated person on Facebook. Torturing my mother with pictures of fresh mangoes (her very favorite food) became sort of a hobby. The best way to feel the beauty of this place is to drive around in a golf cart, which is the most popular kind of transportation in Casa, golf carts are available for rent through the hotel. There are essentially two options for accommodations in Casa de Campo there are a hotel and a private sector of villas and two apartment complexes. Villas of Casa de Campo are beautiful usually have swimming pools, spacious terraces, and great views. So to rent a villa is much more convenient and comfortable option. Villas are listed on many holiday rental websites including Airbnb. Keep in mind you need the pass to get to Casa de Campo Keep in mind you need the pass to get to Casa de Campo. If you stay in Casa be it the hotel or villa or apartment you will get one. The only other way to get in is to have a reservation in one f the restaurants. Casa de Campo is divided into few areas. Here are some […]

Exploring the Dominican Republic: Excursion to Saona island

Why Saona? Let's start at the very beginning. I have been living in the Dominican Republic for more than a year now (yes, I live where you vacation) and this is the second time that my mom visits me. I am originally from Budapest, Hungary, a beautiful European country. On my days off I always organize some trips or excursions so I can take her to different places to discover this beautiful country. This time we are going to Saona island that is a natural park as well, meaning that there are no buildings, no electricity, no water… All natural surroundings. This excursion is normally sold in the hotels and resorts by the tour operators (Punta Cana Tours, Colonial Tours) but since I live here, I have my contacts. And once you have them, you need to use them, right? So we have a deal with Francisco (a local tour guide and my neighbor BTW) that in exchange for the trip, we will invite him over to a typical Hungarian dinner that my mom cooks. Deal. 😉   Caribbean timing Now you need to know about Dominicans that they have a really special interpretation of timing. They say 'I will be there in 5 min' means that in half an hour they will LEAVE THEIR HOUSE. Or we have a meeting at a certain time and it's completely normal that they show up one hour later like nothing happened, and of course they don't let you know that they are gonna be late. It's the most natural thing for them, and if you mention that you don’t like this, they are like… ‘Tranquila mami…calmate…’ – hey don’t care at all. I was really upset about this at the beginning, but now I know how to handle this. Just always be prepared that you are gonna wait for eternity. They call it 'tiempo dominicano' and they are fully aware of this – I would even risk it that they are proud of this, but anyways, you got my point. For my biggest surprise Francisco is the first Dominican who shows up at the time we agreed (even though it is early in the morning). I confirm that he still has this habit, I tested him several times later on. After picking up the tourists from the hotels and then after about an hour bus ride we arrive to Bayahibe to board to a catamaran that takes us to the so called Paradise, Saona island. And here starts the fun.   'Ron, ron, ron, todo el tiempo' Already on the bus it was mentioned several times that we are gonna have 'rum rum rum all the time', right from the morning, starting around 10 am. You can imagine the combination of rum and sun all day long… No comment hahaaaa… Let me share with you guys the things that I remember… Nooooooo, I'm just kidding. The secret is that you have to drink water as well, not only alcohol, so after a glass […]
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