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Trip Extensions

There are currently no suggested extensions for this itinerary. Please ask the Destination Specialist if you'd like to customize one.

Anticipated itinerary; actual route may vary.

Day 1: arrival in santiago de cuba

Saniago's Revolution Square Saniago's Revolution Square

Arrive in Santiago de Cuba's international airport. Pass through immigration and find your trip leader Joslin Fritz, your Cuban guide and driver, and your comfortable tour bus.  The warmth, color, surprise, historical significance and cultural diversity of this region will be immediately apparent and reinforced throughout this orientation day. Visit Revolution Square, Monacada Barracks and San Juan Hill, and learn about the history of this part of Cuba.

Lunch and dinner today, and many of your group meals throughout the trip, will be in paladars, privately owned restaurants which are a recent and welcome phenomenon in a country where almost all business is government owned. Some have two tables and some have as many as thirty, and each is unique.

Meals
Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Casa Granda or similar

Day 2: life and music in santiago

Community-based health care in Cuba is free.Community-based health care in Cuba is free.

After yesterday's historical overview, today slow down and begin meeting locals in different arenas. The morning tour of downtown and Cespedes Park will be on foot with an expert Santigueran guide. Visit a local polyclinic for firsthand insight into the country's free community-based health care system. Also enjoy two important and distinctly Cuban music traditions with their roots in Santiago. Engage with a professional dance troupe in the distinctly Cuban son tradition, which is the root of most of today's salsa music. And, after dinner at the UNESCO World Heritage site Morro Castle overlooking the Bay of Santiago, experience another great Cuban music tradition, trova, at the historic Casa de La Trova. Itinerant trovadores, in duets and trios and sometimes larger groupings, have been playing guitars and performing original compositions since the 19th century. Casa de la Trova was the first music house to showcase the talent, and the best musicians still perform here.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Casa Granda or similar

Day 3: art and architecture in santiago; granma island

It's a short boat ride in Santiago Harbor to Cayo GranmaIt's a short boat ride in Santiago Harbor to Cayo Granma

Engage in varied activities today to enhance your understanding of contemporary Cuba and of the Santiago area environs. Accompanied by an expert on Cuban architecture, walk through the famous ornate Moorish mansion (built in 1516) of Diego Velásquez, founder of the original seven villas of Cuba. As a complement, gain insight into the role of arts and arts education in revolutionary Cuba, as well as into Cuba's free educational system, on a visit to a prestigious Santiago art school, where you meet with artists and teachers. Also embark on a picturesque midday boat excursion into the beautiful Santiago Bay to the fishing village on the tiny island of Cayo Granma, where you'll enjoy a seafood lunch.

Dinner on your own tonight.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch
Lodging
Casa Granda or similar

Day 4: afro-cuban santiago / sierra de cristal mountains

Both pine trees and palm trees surround your lodgeBoth pine trees and palm trees surround your lodge

There is Afro-Caribbean influence throughout Cuba, but nowhere is it more pervasive and apparent than in Santiago, which has been described as more similar to Haiti and the Dominican Republic than to Havana. This is apparent in speech patterns, cuisine, and music, and most strikingly in Santería, an animist religion (distinct from voodoo, and not a cult) which has been blended in some ways with Christianity. Santería has more followers in Cuba than does Roman Catholicism. In a lecture and Q-and-A with a professor this morning, learn more about Afro-Cuban culture. Then, head north to the village of Mella, an artists' haven known for the Bayate collective of self-taught artists residing here whose works showcase customs of countryside life with the explicit goal of preserving cultural traditions. Have lunch at the home of Luis Rodriguez Ricardo, known as "El Estudiante," whose father started the artistic collective, and meet some of the artists who reside here.

After lunch, continue to Mayarí, in the Sierra de Cristal mountains, on the edge of Parque Nacional la Mensura. The Piñares de Mayarí pine forest lies above the cloud line and shows you a unique microclimate that feels both alpine and tropical. Stay in a log cabin nature lodge for two nights.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Hotel Piñares de Mayarí

Day 5: piñares de mayarí

The views over Salto de Guayabo waterfall are magnificentThe views over Salto de Guayabo waterfall are magnificent

Start your day with a yoga class in the garden of of your lodge (optional, of course). After breakfast, head into the national park and experience its unique microclimate atop a plateau within the Sierra de Cristal mountains. Walk the Sabina trail, taking you through eight distinct ecosystems, and an orchidarium, too. Also walk to a scenic lookout over Salto de Guayabo, the tallest waterfall in Cuba. Enjoy some free time before dinner at the hotel.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch
Lodging
Hotel Piñares de Mayarî

Day 6: holguin / gibara

The charming coastal town of GibaraThe charming coastal town of Gibara

Depart your beautiful mountain lodge this morning and drive to the north coast. En route, stop in Holguin, the fourth largest city in Cuba, to view a private dance rehearsal of the Holguin ballet troupe, a group that performs widely. After lunch in Holguin, continue to Gibara, an isolated coastal fishing village on the bay that bears its name. Formerly a key port city, transportation routes began bypassing Gibara in the 1920s. Not many travelers make it here, despite its charm and beauty. It is a gem of a village less touched by tourism than most coastal towns. Look around for the traditional stained glass windows, and partake of the fresh seafood on offer here. Your guide will orient you on a walking tour before dinner.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Hotel Arsenita or Hotel E Ordoño

Day 7: gibara

The famous Cuban cigarThe famous Cuban cigar

Cuba is known for its cigars, and this morning you will visit a factory where they are made and where you can learn why they are such a prized product of the country. Also visit the Gibara Museum of National History and talk with historian Barbara Lopez about her life and work. Then, enjoy a boat ride up the Gibara River and spot the many bird species and other wildlife abundant in this area. After a seafood lunch, visit with local fisherman, learn about their way of life, and see their boats.

Tonight, gather in the cultural center of town for a farewell dinner and live music.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Hotel Arsenita or Hotel E Ordoño

Day 8: depart for the usa or other parts of cuba

Transfer provided to the Holguin airport for your return flight to Miami or to continue elsewhere in Cuba.

Meals
Breakfast

Price and Date Details

Land Cost:
From
$4,360
The cost quoted is the Land Cost and is subject to change. This covers accommodations, transfers, activities, touring, guide services and meals as described in Journeys' Trip Notes. The quoted Land Cost will apply when group size falls in the specified range and when travel is on the indicated dates.
Single Supplement:
$650
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Custom & private on your dates

Need to Know

Duration:
8 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost. The total number of days includes the time required to travel between the USA and the destination country.
Comfort Level:
●●●○○
(see full descriptions)
Activity Level:
●○○○○
(see full descriptions)
Group Size:
Most custom trips can accommodate groups of any size, from one person to as large of a group as you'd like. Some exceptions apply; ask your Adventure Specialist for details.
Terms & Conditions: 

Cuba

Please note that this trip operates under different payment and cancellation policies than those described in our complete Terms & Conditions as noted on our website and elsewhere. Please review the complete Terms & Conditions prior to submitting a deposit. 

Journeys International is traveling to Cuba through the people-to-people general license from the Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control as detailed in CACR (Cuban Assets Control Regulation) 31 CFR 515.565 (b). Our itinerary focuses on meaningful cultural interaction with the Cuban people. Due to circumstances outside of our control, all activities are subject to change. 

Expenses covered

Normally, our stated land costs include the cost of all guides, leaders, permits obtained after arrival, lodging accommodations, food and entry fees as specified, and all surface transportation associated with the planned itinerary. We do our best to avoid increasing prices after receipt of your deposit, but, rarely, factors beyond our control might require us to change our prices without prior notice, even after you have signed up. 

Expenses not covered

Costs not included in the price may include: meals not indicated as included in itineraries; meals prior to arrival in starting cities; transfers, if not arriving or departing on the scheduled group flights; soft drinks, bottled water, and alcoholic beverages; medical expenses, costs of hospitalization, or evacuation from remote areas; laundry; airport departure taxes not included on your airline ticket; accommodations en route to starting cities; visas; airfares; gratuities; and insurance. 

Payment and Deposit Schedule​

Deposit is $800 per person per trip or the applicable amount based on the trip and the proximity of the departure date. Full balance per person is due 120 days prior to departure. (Note: this schedule supersedes that listed in the general Terms and Conditions.) The deposit may be made by Visa, Master Card or check, and the Reservation Form may be submitted via our website. Full payment schedule and cancellation penalties are described in our Terms and Conditions as noted on our website and elsewhere. Please request these if you do not have them before submitting a deposit.

Airfare
We can help you secure air travel arrangements to correspond with land travel booked through Journeys International. We work with an airfare consolidator to assist in booking the flights that suit your needs. If you decide to make your own flight arrangements, you must provide Journeys International with a complete copy of your itinerary showing departure and arrival flights and times. You should plan to arrange your own air travel if you are using mileage credit or originating outside North America, but please be in touch with our office before you finalize ticketing so that we can help you to coordinate the correct arrival and departure dates and times.

Insurance

When you make your reservation, we strongly recommend the purchase of comprehensive travel insurance in case of emergency situations. Please contact us for a recommended policy.

Itinerary Change Fee

There will be a $40 fee for changes once an itinerary has been confirmed and approved. Additional cancellation penalties or change fees may apply as per our terms and conditions. The passenger is responsible for such fees.

 

From the Bird's Word Blog

Cuba Travel Services: A How-To Guide For Americans

In recent months, as US-Cuba relations have improved, the official guidelines on Cuba travel services have been continually evolving. Here’s a current list (as of May 2016) of …

A long tradition of itinerant musicians has its roots in Santiago.
A long tradition of itinerant musicians has its roots in Santiago.
Santiago is considered the Cradle of the Revolution.
Santiago is considered the Cradle of the Revolution.
Encounter a myriad of avian species near Pinares de Mayarí
Encounter a myriad of avian species near Pinares de Mayarí
The charming coastal town of Gibara
The charming coastal town of Gibara
Journeys group photo in a national park.
Journeys group photo in a national park.

Essence of Eastern Cuba

Stunning scenery, unique cuisine, proud history and Afro-Caribbean culture

overview

Eastern Cuba is less widely known, less populous, more tropical, and more intimate than Havana and the west. The feel is distinctly Afro-Caribbean, evidenced not only in the different cutural, musical and religious traditions but also in the tropical palms, the lilt of the language, and the cuisine infused with coconut and chocolate. The area is refered to as "the cradle of the revolution" for its significance in the independence struggle of the late nineteenth century and its centrality in Fidel's life and initial campaigns.

Journeys' 8-day Eastern Cuba itinerary visits three distinctive areas. Santiago is Cuba's second-largest city with only a fifth of the population of Havana. Piñares de Mayarí offers a distinctive and unexpected taste of natural Cuba. Gibara, a fishing community on the north coast, is a picturesque and less-visited town where you can experience small-town life. Throughout the rich and varied program, there will be opportunities to explore on foot and by boat; to picnic at gorgeous lookouts; to attend music performances; and, to meet with artists, professors, health practitioners and historians.

Groups are limited to 15 and accompanied by our vibrant veteran guide, Joslin Fritz. This itinerary complements Journeys' Rhythm of a Lively Land by offering the same kind of authentic access to Cuban life, culture and environments without duplicating any of the inclusions. It isn't necessary to do one itinerary before the other. Either itinerary can serve as an honest and effective introduction to this surprising, engaging, expressive, evolving country. Together, they offer a comprehensive overview.

Note that a portion of the proceeds from this trip will support a grassroots rebuilding project in the town of Baracoa, which was devastated by Hurricane Matthew in Fall 2016.

itinerary

See Trip Extensions
View Map

overview

Eastern Cuba is less widely known, less populous, more tropical, and more intimate than Havana and the west. The feel is distinctly Afro-Caribbean, evidenced not only in the different cutural, musical and religious traditions but also in the tropical palms, the lilt of the language, and the cuisine infused with coconut and chocolate. The area is refered to as "the cradle of the revolution" for its significance in the independence struggle of the late nineteenth century and its centrality in Fidel's life and initial campaigns.

Journeys' 8-day Eastern Cuba itinerary visits three distinctive areas. Santiago is Cuba's second-largest city with only a fifth of the population of Havana. Piñares de Mayarí offers a distinctive and unexpected taste of natural Cuba. Gibara, a fishing community on the north coast, is a picturesque and less-visited town where you can experience small-town life. Throughout the rich and varied program, there will be opportunities to explore on foot and by boat; to picnic at gorgeous lookouts; to attend music performances; and, to meet with artists, professors, health practitioners and historians.

Groups are limited to 15 and accompanied by our vibrant veteran guide, Joslin Fritz. This itinerary complements Journeys' Rhythm of a Lively Land by offering the same kind of authentic access to Cuban life, culture and environments without duplicating any of the inclusions. It isn't necessary to do one itinerary before the other. Either itinerary can serve as an honest and effective introduction to this surprising, engaging, expressive, evolving country. Together, they offer a comprehensive overview.

Note that a portion of the proceeds from this trip will support a grassroots rebuilding project in the town of Baracoa, which was devastated by Hurricane Matthew in Fall 2016.

Continue to detailed itinerary...

itinerary

Anticipated itinerary; actual route may vary.
  • Day 1: arrival in santiago de cuba
    Saniago's Revolution Square Saniago's Revolution Square

    Arrive in Santiago de Cuba's international airport. Pass through immigration and find your trip leader Joslin Fritz, your Cuban guide and driver, and your comfortable tour bus.  The warmth, color, surprise, historical significance and cultural diversity of this region will be immediately apparent and reinforced throughout this orientation day. Visit Revolution Square, Monacada Barracks and San Juan Hill, and learn about the history of this part of Cuba.

    Lunch and dinner today, and many of your group meals throughout the trip, will be in paladars, privately owned restaurants which are a recent and welcome phenomenon in a country where almost all business is government owned. Some have two tables and some have as many as thirty, and each is unique.

    Meals
    Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Casa Granda or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 2: life and music in santiago
    Community-based health care in Cuba is free.Community-based health care in Cuba is free.

    After yesterday's historical overview, today slow down and begin meeting locals in different arenas. The morning tour of downtown and Cespedes Park will be on foot with an expert Santigueran guide. Visit a local polyclinic for firsthand insight into the country's free community-based health care system. Also enjoy two important and distinctly Cuban music traditions with their roots in Santiago. Engage with a professional dance troupe in the distinctly Cuban son tradition, which is the root of most of today's salsa music. And, after dinner at the UNESCO World Heritage site Morro Castle overlooking the Bay of Santiago, experience another great Cuban music tradition, trova, at the historic Casa de La Trova. Itinerant trovadores, in duets and trios and sometimes larger groupings, have been playing guitars and performing original compositions since the 19th century. Casa de la Trova was the first music house to showcase the talent, and the best musicians still perform here.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Casa Granda or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 3: art and architecture in santiago; granma island
    It's a short boat ride in Santiago Harbor to Cayo GranmaIt's a short boat ride in Santiago Harbor to Cayo Granma

    Engage in varied activities today to enhance your understanding of contemporary Cuba and of the Santiago area environs. Accompanied by an expert on Cuban architecture, walk through the famous ornate Moorish mansion (built in 1516) of Diego Velásquez, founder of the original seven villas of Cuba. As a complement, gain insight into the role of arts and arts education in revolutionary Cuba, as well as into Cuba's free educational system, on a visit to a prestigious Santiago art school, where you meet with artists and teachers. Also embark on a picturesque midday boat excursion into the beautiful Santiago Bay to the fishing village on the tiny island of Cayo Granma, where you'll enjoy a seafood lunch.

    Dinner on your own tonight.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Casa Granda or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 4: afro-cuban santiago / sierra de cristal mountains
    Both pine trees and palm trees surround your lodgeBoth pine trees and palm trees surround your lodge

    There is Afro-Caribbean influence throughout Cuba, but nowhere is it more pervasive and apparent than in Santiago, which has been described as more similar to Haiti and the Dominican Republic than to Havana. This is apparent in speech patterns, cuisine, and music, and most strikingly in Santería, an animist religion (distinct from voodoo, and not a cult) which has been blended in some ways with Christianity. Santería has more followers in Cuba than does Roman Catholicism. In a lecture and Q-and-A with a professor this morning, learn more about Afro-Cuban culture. Then, head north to the village of Mella, an artists' haven known for the Bayate collective of self-taught artists residing here whose works showcase customs of countryside life with the explicit goal of preserving cultural traditions. Have lunch at the home of Luis Rodriguez Ricardo, known as "El Estudiante," whose father started the artistic collective, and meet some of the artists who reside here.

    After lunch, continue to Mayarí, in the Sierra de Cristal mountains, on the edge of Parque Nacional la Mensura. The Piñares de Mayarí pine forest lies above the cloud line and shows you a unique microclimate that feels both alpine and tropical. Stay in a log cabin nature lodge for two nights.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Hotel Piñares de Mayarí
    Show on a map
  • Day 5: piñares de mayarí
    The views over Salto de Guayabo waterfall are magnificentThe views over Salto de Guayabo waterfall are magnificent

    Start your day with a yoga class in the garden of of your lodge (optional, of course). After breakfast, head into the national park and experience its unique microclimate atop a plateau within the Sierra de Cristal mountains. Walk the Sabina trail, taking you through eight distinct ecosystems, and an orchidarium, too. Also walk to a scenic lookout over Salto de Guayabo, the tallest waterfall in Cuba. Enjoy some free time before dinner at the hotel.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Hotel Piñares de Mayarî
    Show on a map
  • Day 6: holguin / gibara
    The charming coastal town of GibaraThe charming coastal town of Gibara

    Depart your beautiful mountain lodge this morning and drive to the north coast. En route, stop in Holguin, the fourth largest city in Cuba, to view a private dance rehearsal of the Holguin ballet troupe, a group that performs widely. After lunch in Holguin, continue to Gibara, an isolated coastal fishing village on the bay that bears its name. Formerly a key port city, transportation routes began bypassing Gibara in the 1920s. Not many travelers make it here, despite its charm and beauty. It is a gem of a village less touched by tourism than most coastal towns. Look around for the traditional stained glass windows, and partake of the fresh seafood on offer here. Your guide will orient you on a walking tour before dinner.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Hotel Arsenita or Hotel E Ordoño
    Show on a map
  • Day 7: gibara
    The famous Cuban cigarThe famous Cuban cigar

    Cuba is known for its cigars, and this morning you will visit a factory where they are made and where you can learn why they are such a prized product of the country. Also visit the Gibara Museum of National History and talk with historian Barbara Lopez about her life and work. Then, enjoy a boat ride up the Gibara River and spot the many bird species and other wildlife abundant in this area. After a seafood lunch, visit with local fisherman, learn about their way of life, and see their boats.

    Tonight, gather in the cultural center of town for a farewell dinner and live music.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Hotel Arsenita or Hotel E Ordoño
    Show on a map
  • Day 8: depart for the usa or other parts of cuba

    Transfer provided to the Holguin airport for your return flight to Miami or to continue elsewhere in Cuba.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Show on a map

Price and Date Details

Land Cost:
From
$4,360
The cost quoted is the Land Cost and is subject to change. This covers accommodations, transfers, activities, touring, guide services and meals as described in Journeys' Trip Notes. The quoted Land Cost will apply when group size falls in the specified range and when travel is on the indicated dates.
Single Supplement:
$650
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Custom & private on your dates

Need to Know

Duration:
8 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost. The total number of days includes the time required to travel between the USA and the destination country.
Comfort Level:
●●●○○
(see full descriptions)
Activity Level:
●○○○○
(see full descriptions)
Group Size:
Most custom trips can accommodate groups of any size, from one person to as large of a group as you'd like. Some exceptions apply; ask your Adventure Specialist for details.
Terms & Conditions: 

Cuba

Please note that this trip operates under different payment and cancellation policies than those described in our complete Terms & Conditions as noted on our website and elsewhere. Please review the complete Terms & Conditions prior to submitting a deposit. 

Journeys International is traveling to Cuba through the people-to-people general license from the Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control as detailed in CACR (Cuban Assets Control Regulation) 31 CFR 515.565 (b). Our itinerary focuses on meaningful cultural interaction with the Cuban people. Due to circumstances outside of our control, all activities are subject to change. 

Expenses covered

Normally, our stated land costs include the cost of all guides, leaders, permits obtained after arrival, lodging accommodations, food and entry fees as specified, and all surface transportation associated with the planned itinerary. We do our best to avoid increasing prices after receipt of your deposit, but, rarely, factors beyond our control might require us to change our prices without prior notice, even after you have signed up. 

Expenses not covered

Costs not included in the price may include: meals not indicated as included in itineraries; meals prior to arrival in starting cities; transfers, if not arriving or departing on the scheduled group flights; soft drinks, bottled water, and alcoholic beverages; medical expenses, costs of hospitalization, or evacuation from remote areas; laundry; airport departure taxes not included on your airline ticket; accommodations en route to starting cities; visas; airfares; gratuities; and insurance. 

Payment and Deposit Schedule​

Deposit is $800 per person per trip or the applicable amount based on the trip and the proximity of the departure date. Full balance per person is due 120 days prior to departure. (Note: this schedule supersedes that listed in the general Terms and Conditions.) The deposit may be made by Visa, Master Card or check, and the Reservation Form may be submitted via our website. Full payment schedule and cancellation penalties are described in our Terms and Conditions as noted on our website and elsewhere. Please request these if you do not have them before submitting a deposit.

Airfare
We can help you secure air travel arrangements to correspond with land travel booked through Journeys International. We work with an airfare consolidator to assist in booking the flights that suit your needs. If you decide to make your own flight arrangements, you must provide Journeys International with a complete copy of your itinerary showing departure and arrival flights and times. You should plan to arrange your own air travel if you are using mileage credit or originating outside North America, but please be in touch with our office before you finalize ticketing so that we can help you to coordinate the correct arrival and departure dates and times.

Insurance

When you make your reservation, we strongly recommend the purchase of comprehensive travel insurance in case of emergency situations. Please contact us for a recommended policy.

Itinerary Change Fee

There will be a $40 fee for changes once an itinerary has been confirmed and approved. Additional cancellation penalties or change fees may apply as per our terms and conditions. The passenger is responsible for such fees.

 

Trip Extensions

There are currently no suggested extensions for this itinerary. Please ask the Destination Specialist if you'd like to customize one.

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× comfort level
Choose accommodations and amenities that fit your personal style
●○○○○ Simple
Our most natural accommodations. Bath facilities often shared, sometimes rustic.
●●○○○ Delightful
Comfortable and especially personal. Small to mid-sized lodges, typically with private bath.
●●●○○ Superior
Lodges and hotels with additional amenities, refined artistry, or extra-special settings.
●●●●○ Deluxe
Exclusive or luxury lodges, hotels, or safari camps with fine dining options.
●●●●● Uncommon
The most indulgent accommodations arranged specially for private trips.
× activity level
Match the trip’s intensity to your ability and motivation.
●○○○○ Gentle
Easy walking, with opportunities for low-key physical activity.
●●○○○ Active
Energetic exploration with optional day hikes, leisurely cycling, or light canoeing.
●●●○○ Vigorous
Day-long active excursions and options for demanding activity in varied environments.
●●●●○ Challenging
Strenuous hiking or other intense activity that may be at high altitude or over rough terrain.
●●●●● Demanding
Multi-day trekking and other activities requiring endurance or strength. Steep trails. No technical expertise necessary.
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