Ethiopia

Mail sent:Wednesday December 29 2004

Hope you all had a very blessed Christmas, we had a very blessed and special one. On Christmas day we went horse riding (not the iron horse) in the Bale Mountain National Park in Southern Ethiopia. The next day, 26 December the GS took us to very high altitudes (4380m) on the Sanetti Plateau, in Bale Mountains. Johan__Charmaine Bale MountainsJust before Dinsho heading into a rain storm. The rainbow always reminds us of God's promise after the Great Flood, what a beautiful sign from our Dad! bale_mountains_rainbow on road to DinshoMost of the times when you stop there will be spectators, but later you learn to ignore them, some don't like to be ignored and some throw stones at you when you leave, luckily they are very bad stone throwers. These ones were very friendly and just giggled as we put on our rain pants.The Lord blessed our weekend big time,we saw the very endangered Siemen Fox up close, Wattled Cranes, Buzzard's and some other endemic animals that only live in Ethiopia. We enjoyed Kenya very much and spent about R191 per day, a little bit more expensive than Tanzania (R170). The distance meter on the GPS stood on 15 607km (since Cape Agulhas) when we arrived here in Addis Ababa.  The GS has got just under 60 000km on and despite of the set back in Kenya, is still a great bike.Fuel consumptions very good, despite the poor quality of petrol. Johan pouring fuel Ethiopia
 Some areas we got 20km/l and in most places we are getting 18km/l. We left Marsabit 21 Des and it took us 8 hours to do 250km to Moyale. The next day we slept in Dila and then went to Dinsho, the town where the head quarters of the Bale Mountain National Park is, on the 23d. We thought we were going to have a white Christmas in Switzerland, but instead we had a very cold one in Ethiopia, because of the height. The hut where we stayed in is 3170m high, lekker koud! 27th we went to Nazaret and the next day Addis. Our Passports are in at the Sudan Embassy and we might get our visas on Friday.

EtehopiŽ is baie anders as enige ander lande wat ons al besoek het. Mense hier wat ons ontmoet het tot dusver is redelik vriendelik. Hulle is net vrek nuuskierig en ooral waar ons stop is daar altyd 'n trek rondom ons. Ek worrie nie meer oor hulle nie en as ek 'n noot het langs die pad, dan stop ek, maar arme C het dit nie so maklik nie. Dis baie moeilik om 'n stopplek te kry waar nie mense is nie, en meeste vulstasies en resturante se toilets wil jy nie eers op 'n foto sien nie, 'n veld pee is baie beter. Die grootste aanpassing vir my was om regs van die pad te ry, dit is erg en kos konsentrasie, aangesien meeste voertuie in die middel van die pad ry en net na hulle kant gaan as hulle aankomende verkeer gewaar. So af en toe gewaar hulle jou nie!  As jy in Dar Es Salaam en Nairobi al gery het, is Addis soetkoek. Mense ry baie meer beskaafd hier en stop by rooi verkeersligte, paaie is vantasties en verkeer vloei baie lekker. Nie naastenby so baie karre soos in Nairobi nie. In Nairobi het ek geleer om soos 'n padbuffel te ry, ek sal dit seker moet afleer, nie nodig hier nie, daar moet jy so ry, dis 'n geval van servival of the fittest, Leon, ek weet jy sal verstaan, In Maputo ry hulle ook so. Addis is 'n groot plek met 3 miljoen inwoners, die hoofstraat, Churchill Ave loop teen so steil bult uit en laat my herinner aan Kloofnek. Die hotelkamer waarin ons bly het 'n uitsig oor die stad en ook 'n balkon. Ek sÍ ons bly, larney, hier. Kamp kos baie duurder as hotel, en na 3 weke se tent blyery in Nairobi is ons so baie dankbaar vir 'n bed elke aand teen 'n bekostigbare prys.  Ons was baie verbaas oor hoe goedkoop EtehopiŽ is teenoor die ander lande. In Moyale het ons kamer Birr20 (R15) gekos! Hier in Addis bly ons vir Birr46 (R32) per aand. Het vanoggend 'n pizza (luxery) geŽet vir Birr23 (R17). Wie het al 'n pizza geŽet sonderkaas, 'n Njara kos Birr7 (R5).Ethiopian Dish called NjaraNjara is die interesantste ding wat ons nog gesien het op ons trip. Dis eie aan EtehopiŽ, hulle plaaslike gereg. 2 mense eet aan een Njara en dis 'n baie vullende maaltyd. Lyk soos 'n pannekoek, maar baie groter, so 450mm in deursnit. Dis so sponserig en dun, maar proe soos geen ander dis wat ek kan aan dink nie. Word gemaak van Barley, amper soos koring. Textuur is sag soos panekoek. Nou hulle sit(of gooi seker) die njara op 'n net so groot ronde skinkbord en dan is daar sulke hopies souserige geregte bo op gegooi. Vergeet van eetgerei, dis uit soos koekies in 'n weeshuis, hier eet jy met jou vingers. Jy skeur 'n stuk van die njara af en soort van skep die sousies op en eet. Baie interesant. Ek dink julle sal net verstaan as ek 'n foto stuur.

Vandat ons Nairobi verlaat het het die Here ons net geseŽn met die pragtigste scenery wat jy kan aan dink. Noord van Marsabit het ons deur 'n woestyn gery, die slegste pad wat ek nog in my lewe gery het, maar ons het geweet daarvan en was voorberei. Het meeste van die eerste 120km stadiger as 25km/h gery oor baie los klippe pad met 'n verskriklike hoŽ middelmannetjie. Ook was ek bekommerd oor die tyres en wou nie kans vat nie, het al reeds een groot sny in die voor tyre. Vir een deel sien jy niks anders as swart lawa klippe en groen yl gras tussen in nie, woorde kan die pragtige stuk nie beskryf nie, en dis plat so ver jy kyk, net soos die Vrystaat.

Van Moyale af is die pad lekker teer tot by Seshamane, waar ons afgedraai het na die Bale Mountains. Op pad na Dinsho is 'n bergpas wat klim en klim en klim en klim, totdat jy 3500m hoog is en dan plat dit af en sak stadig tot net hoŽr as 3000. daar is rotse wat baie lyk soos Golden Gate se rotse.  Die perdry was baie lekker, ten spyte van die baie seer boude die aand, kon omtrent nie sit nie, dis baie erger as om die Argus te ry. Maar vir my was die mees spesiale dag van ons hele trip die 26ste Des. Ons het gaan draai by Goba, 'n baie nice dorpie, lyk soos die Wille Weste met 100de perdekarre, te kostelik! Daar het ons verskryklike lekker koffie gedrink en die dorp het heelwat koffie shops. 2 Late's en 2 koek het ons Birr4 (R2.50) gekos! Belaglik goedkoop. Die mense daar is baie vriendelik ook. Toe klim ons die hoogste pad wat ek nog in my lewe gery het. Goba lÍ op 2700m hoog, langs hom lÍ 'n barg wat die Du Toitskloof berg na ?n heuweltjie laat lyk. Die pad loop tot net so oor die 4000m. Dis daar waar die Siemen Fox gewaar kan word, daar is minder as 700 oor. Ons het 5 gesien, en 2 was baie naby langs die pad en hardloop nie eers weg nie, nou kan mens so geseŽnd wees! Thank You Jesus! Daar loop 'n pad op na die hoogste piek in die area(4380m), baie steil ek moet sÍ, 380m geklim in 4km! Moes klou en die momentum behou, want die 2 spoor paadjie is los klip. 

Mail sent:Friday December 31 2004
Happy New Year from coffee shop city - Addis

We are still in Addis, our visa for Sudan has not come through yet, so we might be here till Tuesday next week. The past 2 days we have been 'walking the streets'!  Wow, it's amazing to find that Addis is the Coffee Shop king of Africa.  We have successfully been to 16 different coffee hookies/shops.  A milk coffee (cafe latte) costs a whole Bir 2-00 (R1-50) and a piece of cake Bir 3-00 (R2-20).  There are also wonderful pasta restaurants and a good size plate of pasta costs Bir 12-00 (R9-00).  We are eating like kings kids because we are, thank you Jesus!!Johan & Charmaine Ethiopia The local transport consists of millions of little blue and white Fiat 128's, most in very good condition.  They also have blue and white Toyota Hi-Aces, the best looking mini-busses we have seen in Africa.  The busses are orange and red; and are also in a good condition and like the rest of Africa they are very over loaded.

We wish one and all a very Happy and Peaceful New Year, may you all be blessed with love, laughter and happiness.

Johan Ethiopia

E pos gestuur:
Woensdag January 5 2005

Ai, ons wag nog steeds vir die embesade vir Visa, nou al 'n week. Laas week saterdag het ons besluit om eerder so bietjie uit te ry en die omgewing rondom die stad te kyk. Die stad is nice, maar ook net tot op 'n punt en dan raak mens dik vir die 100de mense en karre.  Ons het wel al genoeg koffie winkels besoek en so aan.  Saterdag is ons uit op die pad noord na die Blou Nyl rivier gorge. Die teerpad is die beste wat ons gery het in maande, splinternuut en draaierig met plase van graan en barley en alerande goeters. Die aand (net120km gery) het ons by Fiche geslaap vir net Birr10! Die goedkoopste plek nog. Die toilet (gat in grond) was nou wel stink en die stort baie koud, nee, BAIE koud maar ten minste was die bed baie goed(en skoon!) die volgende oggend ry ons weer noord en kom by 'n gesig soos ons nog nooit tevore gesien het nie. Dis die Blue Nile Gorge en ook bekend as Afrika se Grand Canyon. 1.3km diep, 18km breedt en met 'n stowwerige kronkelpad wat ons 2 uur gevat het om daardeur te ry was dit seker een van die mooiste en mees spesiaale passe wat ons al oor is. Ek hoop die fotos lyk goed, alhoewel ek nie dink dit sal justice doen nie.  Die sondagaand het ons by Debre Markos geslaap by die grandste hotel waar ons nog was. Vir Birr50 met 'n eie badkamer met gewone toilet en warm water kon ons nie nee senie.  Maandag het ons terug gery weer tot by Fiche en gister terug in Addis, dieselfde hotel. Ons dink so baie aan julle by die huis en wens baie dae ons kan vir julle hierdie pragtige plekke kom wys. Kan amper nie glo ons is al 7 maande op die pad nie, verbasend nÍ?

Daar gaan nie probleem wees met die Saudi ArabiŽ transit visa nie, maar die moet ons in Khartoum kry, ook nie duur nie, net $20 of so sÍ hulle by hierdie embesade. Na Saudi Jordan, dan weet ons nog nie. Ek dink ons sal daardie besluit eers doen as ons daar is. As daar job in Isreal is, sal ons defnetief soontoe gaan, as daar nie is nie, sal ons Isreal mis en eerder Syria toe gaan.  Die getroude lewe is nog baie goed en ons leer elke dag nuwe dinge. Een ding is seker dit is darem 'n blessing om iemand spesiaal te hÍ. Dit maak die hele toer soveel meer voledig. Party dae voel ek so half sleg dat Lief nie kan ry nie, want ek sien sy sal graag self wou gery het, maar finansieel nie moontlik nie. Ek kom agter dat baie min mense 2 op een motorfiets toer soos ons, as dit 'n paartjie is, ry die vrou haar eie bike. Ons sal seker weer toer, maar dan op 2 klein(250) motorfietse. Lief sal eers so bietjie moet oefen op moeilike terein soos sand en modder. Sy is baie eager daarvoor en sien vreeslik daarna uit.  Dis so lekker om vir julle te skryf en voel amper of ons met mekaar praat. Oja, die mense hier in noord Afrika wil net nie glo daar bly wit mense in Afrika nie. Ek se hulle dan wat is die mees gevorderste land in Afrika en hulle almal antwoord dadelik Suid Afrika. Dan laat ek hulle verstaan maar dis omdat daar baie wit mense daar bly. Meeste laaik dit nie, maar dis mos die waarheid?


Mail sent: Monday 10 January 2005 -
Sudan or Djibouti


2 weeks in Addis Ababa Jip, we're still here. Why, Because the, boss,  in Sudan likes it when tourists wait as long as possible for their visa, while wasting their hard earned money. What ever the reason, I am starting to become less friendly towards them. We can't visit Egypt, and Sudan is looking to be a closed door as well, maybe God has got another plan?  Tomorrow we are going to apply for Djibouti Visa, it takes 3 days, and then on Thursday we are going to apply for Yemen Visa. Jip, we are going to take a route that is very much unknown to the normal Cape to Cairo overlander. As I said, God has got a plan and praise His name we are in it! (So lekker om 'n Koningskind te wees)  2 weeks in any city is enough to drive us country boys (and girls) nuts. The first couple of days are nice, but then after you have experienced what the city has to offer, you just want to get out of here. Same as Nairobi, it was nice the first week, but then we had enough.  Never the less we had two very amazing weekends and saw some of God's great creation; our Dad surely is good at making nature scenes! Last weekend we went north to Debre Markos, 300km from Addis. The first 230km is the best biking road we have been on since leaving the north of Malawi. Road suitable for ZX12's and anything that can handle long sweeps with very good surface. Like Sabie-Hazyview road. Very few people next to road and farmlands like the Swartland. Wheat and Barley etcs. Then come one of Africa's most beautiful scenes, they call it Africa's Grand Canyon. The Blue Nile Gorge. 18km wide and 1300m deep at the point where we crossed! The road is 36km through the huge canyon and it took us 2 hours to go to the other side. Without stops it will take you 1.5 hours with a bike. You start off at 2400m high and drop down to 1100m where you cross the Blue Nile River and immediately rise again to 2400m at the other end. The tar road stops there and it is very dusty, but with excellent surface. The first top part is like Sani Pass, Zig Zaging, the last part in the dip has brought back memories of Swartberg pass with similar rock formations. Very beautiful. One of the most scenic rides we have been on.Johan Scenic view Ethiopia
On Tuesday we came back just to hear the famous ,tomorrow, from our ,friend Samy, at the Sudan embassy. I sort of lost my sense of humour and told the guy what I thought of his unprofessional service and that we don't have to go to his country if he doesn't want us there. Maybe that is why we are still waiting? No, there is another British traveller also waiting two weeks now. ,Maine went back in and apologized to the guy and now I am banned to go in with her to the embassies, especially Sudan, I'll watch the bike outside.

Friday, 7 January was Christmas here (praat van deurmekaar) and we decided to go to Harar, 530km east. The road there is just as good as the one north; I wonder where Africa's ,poorest,  country gets the funds for such good roads. But they are very much fun to ride on, especially by bike. Again super bike county with wide open roads to go flat out through the desert (no people) and to scratch the foot pegs on the last 220km mountain road to Harar! For most of the last 200km you have views left and right as the road goes right on top of the mountain.
Ethiopia RdThe corners aJohan Lookout point Ethiopiare sharper than the north road, very much like Franschoek pass and Hell's Hoogte Pass. The towns however are not nice and very dirty and there were many times I had to be hard on the brakes for the very famous donkey or herds of goats or cattle. Camels seems to have more brains as they stay mostly off the road.

If Addis is Fiat country, Harar is Peugeot country with 100's of 404's used as public transport. All of them are blue and white. And no minibus taxis in Harar! Harar is said to be more than 1000 years old and the old part of the city is within a wall, like the bible towns. The old city is a mix between Zanzibar and Ilha Da Mozambique with the same kind of atmosphere, small alleys and houses on top of each other; but not as nice as Stone Town, Zanzibar. Harar is also famous for the Hyena (feeding) man. There are 2 of them that we know of. At night when there are tourists he feeds the hyenas meat from the end of a stick. Sometimes he puts the stick in his mouth and the hyena come close to his face and grabs the meat off the stick. For Birr50 (R35) per person it surely must be a good business for him, however we did not see many tourists. We decided not to contribute to this for we believe that wild animals should not be fed, how else would they survive in the wild, and that will make them aggressive to humans. We decided to ride around the wall of the old town to see if we could spot some of the hyenas. The first lot we saw was at the towns rubbish dump, about 6 of them. They are very scared of humans as there was a bunch of kids who chased them away while we were sitting with the bike off waiting for them to come closer to take fotos. We drove on and saw some more, one of them passed right close by next to us. One memorable sight for us was to see two sets of hyena eyes, reflecting in the GS's lights, going up and down as they were galloping towards us in the road. They do not have a very elegant way of running!  The one night we heard hyenas calling right close to the hotel and it was very loud.  It is sad what they have done to these poor hyenas, but it keeps the tourists happy. Who would have thought we would be searching for hyenas in a city!
We came back yesterday and once again we are hanging around. We met yet another traveller on an Africa Twin (from Netherlands) heading south. See, all roads lead to Cape Town! The best place in Africa! We will be out of here by the weekend.  But we are facing the hardest part of our journey. Don't know how we are going to get across to Yemen yet, and we heard that Djibouti is very expensive. We foresee no problems in Saudi Arabia, no problem to get a transit Visa which means that we have to cover just under 2000km within 72hours. If everything goes alright, we are going to do the first Ironbutt (www.ironbutt.com) ride on Saudi Arabian soil. I am the first in South Africa (2001), and if roads permit, we will do the same in Saudi. For those of you who are following the Dakar, the South Africans are doing great, Alfie 4th and Geniel 5th. Every two hours or so I come dashing into the internet cafť to see the progress of the race, at least one good thing for staying here............................Keep praising the Lord and God bless you all.

Mail sent: Thursday January 13 2005

Hallelujah, we got our visa for Djibouti and tomorrow we get our visa for Yemen.We do not know about the ferry to Yemen yet but I'm sure our good Lord has another adventure planned for us..............God bless

Mail sent: 22 January 2005 Ė

Before we left Addis, we decided to mail our Cape to Cairo book and some other things back home.  We first tried the courier companies but they were way expensive (about R300) so we thought we would try normal mail and went to the main post office.  At the GPO the security wouldn't let Johan  in with the tank bag because he was 'armed and dangerous!,  yip he had the swiss army knife and the camera,   both not allowed in the post office!! ................ Ethiopia CNA Post OfficeSo I headed off on a postal adventure. The first counter I went to No.38 was very helpful, I could buy the 2 postage stamps for the post cards but the little parcel could only be sent from counter No.2. So off I went to the other end of the GPO.  At No.2,  I joined the cue and patiently waited my turn. The cue is not like in the RSA where you stand one behind the other - here you cram next to each other against the counter and/or behind someone who is against the counter and hope that the postal clerk behind the counter catches your eye next so that you might be helped.  Well this postal clerk lady was busy with a customer that had handed in about 10 boxes so it was taking some time.. and then the postal clerk lady's cell phone rang and she merrily answered it and proceeded to have a long conversation while still doing her work but her speed dropped by about 75%!! Eventually after her call and finishing with her customer she helped the next.  She eventually looked up and around enough to see me and asked 'What do you want?'  I told her that I needed to find out the price of sending my parcel to RSA.   All she said was, 'Counter No.1' so I went to No.1 and joined the cue - luckily not as busy.  This counter is the customs official and she checks inside all parcels to see what you are sending before it may be wrapped, addressed and sent.  Even some of the locals were busy re-opening their neat packages so that the contents could be checked.   After checking my parcel she said, 'Counter No.3' so off I went to No.3 - and thank the Lord I was the only one there.  I repeated my story of sending my parcel to RSA and handed it to him, he weighted it and said it would cost Birr 37.85 for registered mail, whoopee very affordable.  I thanked him and he pointed me back to counter No.1.  Back at No.1. I asked for the mailing box or envelope and she said, 'No.6' Okay, no problem!  At No.6 I got an envelope as that was all they had, then I went to the other side of the hall to put my goodies in the envelope and address it.  This all done I went back to No.1, the customs lady had a good look at it and said that the envelope paper was too thin and that I needed to put 'plaster' on it!!?  PLASTER??  I asked - yes she said and she pointed to a roll of cello tape! Oh, Okay and where to I get the 'plaster'?  You guessed it, she said 'No.6'!    Mmmm - no problem!!  Back to No.6 where I bought a roll of 'plaster', then back to the other side of the hall to wrap my parcel in 'plaster'.  After this was completed, I headed back to No.1 .... But no one was there!  In fact there was only about 4 people behind the long counter, so I went to No.8 and asked where everyone had gone - I was told that it was lunch time (12h00) and that everyone would be back in 1 hour (13h00) - I couldn't believe it.  Shaking my head in disbelief I walked outside with my newly 'plastered' parcel to tell Johan that we had to wait for 1 hour.  He had a good giggle at my face expression.  So we walked to a nearby hotel for a juice and waited out the hour.

At 13h00 we headed back to the GPO and I went straight to No.1 - she was late!!  She checked my 'plastered' parcel, put her beautiful purple stamp on it and signed it and handed it back to me - showing me to put a piece of 'plaster' over her stamp so that it would not rub off, then she said 'No.2'. Here I was about 4th in line, but 2 others managed to get served as well before me.   I should also mention that this counter is for sending parcels as well as for collecting registered parcels, so sometimes we had to wait while the postal clerk went to search for the parcel in the unorganized cupboards!!   Eventually it was my turn, Praise the Lord - she took my 'plastered' parcel and weighed it (it was the same price as quoted by No.3)   Before she finished writing my slip, she had to write a receipt for the customs lady as someone had to pay duties on a parcel they received and to do the receipt she had to take the carbon paper out of the registered items book and put it in the receipt book.  This all done, the carbon paper went back into the registered mail book and she could proceed to complete my slip.   Let me tell you that this postal clerk lady would not win any 'speedy postal service' awards!!
Eventually the 'plastered' parcel had its registered mail stickers on, I had the slip, then she added her purple stamp on the 'plastered' parcel - I had to put a piece of plaster over her stamp as well and the deal was done!!

Hallelujah, it was quite a feeling of victory!!!  Fun in Africa.

When we returned from the postal adventure we  found a piece of paper on the GS outside the post office, it was from Oku our Japanese friend whom we met at Jungle Junction in Nairobi.  He was staying at the Park Hotel which was a block away from our hotel, The Taitu.  It was so good to see him again and he told us that he met Robert,  the Croatian, in Kampala.  We met with Oku every day while we were still in Addis, it was really nice getting to know him.  He is an extremely honourable person and has a huge passion for people and especially children  He has a very special way of holding his heart when he is touched by something that you tell him or when he is telling you something that means a great deal to him.  Johan  helped him with his bike.  Oku also introduced us to another Japanese backpacker.  Apparently many Jap backpackers travel through Iran, UAE, Oman, Yemen, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sudan to Egypt then fly home.  So it was good to hear that there is some sort of 'ferry' system across the Red Sea.  Akator did advise us that the boat he came across on would be too small for the GS. We really know how to time things, when  we left Nairobi it was  in the rain and when we left Addis it was in the rain; and boy can it rain there.  Wet weather gear on, all packed , one final 'buno watted' (milky coffee) with Oku and Akator then we hit the muddy roads!  Yes, the roads in Addis are tar but there is so much rubbish and muck next to the roads and on the side walks that the heavy rain washed it all into the streets.  The road out of town to the north,  towards Debre Birhan and Kembolcha which also goes to Lalibella, is in a very, very poor condition, the tar is worse than a gravel road. The scenery is quite lovely, we even drove threw some mist (clouds) as we were 3250m above sea level at times.
Ethiopia Mountain Pass Dessie DebreThe weather was very chilly and it rained quite a bit.  Thank you Dene for that 'body warmer'. There was plenty road works going on and the detours were pretty well used and to crown it all they were muddy from the rain.  In one section it was slippy-slidy like the Marsabit mud but at least we had good day light this time.  I got off the bike and it was like walking on a ice rink in places.  Johan  followed a truck track for a while then decided it would be better to get down the embankment onto the road that was being repaired, sjoe we were full of mud.  Due to the bad roads and mud we were running late; so we stopped over in the little town of Roma.

Next morning, Sunday 16th Jan,  we headed out real early before sun rise.  The road condition was still pretty bad but Praise the Lord it had not rained during the night. The scenery was absolutely beautiful, lovely passes, old bridges, through some tunnels and lots of greenery.  We had another gravel road section again and the environment got dryer and dryer (Karoo and Namibia conditions)  the people/tribes were also different looking,  the hair styles were really 'old' African bushy style and their dress code looks like the masai without the bright colours. The kids were more keen to throw stones at us but their reaction after seeing the GS was always too slow to hit us.
The closer we got to the border the little villages got more dirty with less and less facilities, we didn't see any sign for hotels (maybe just as well)!The scenery changed dramatically, we were quite high up and at one point came around a bend to see an amazing site of a mountain ridge running into a salt pan. Ethiopia Salt Pan  Picture this,  mountains with big red boulders, dry amber sand cracked and patterned, snow white salt in sections on the sand and the odd green palm cluster scattered on the edge.Just before Djibouti was this amazing salt pan

Ethiopia actual route

 

 

 

 

Actual route travelled  through Ethiopia
 

 

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