Halloween in Playa del Carmen… a great party by the sea!

Halloween is almost here! Once a North American tradition, Halloween is growing increasingly popular in Mexico. If you live or are visiting Playa del Carmen, you can join the people that goes out on this night and enjoy an amazing blend of traditions in Playa del Carmen.

In Mexico, there has been a long tradition of celebrating the Day of the Dead. This day commemorates the people that has left before us, and people make shrines to celebrate the memories of loved ones that are no longer with us.

However, many also join and celebrate the fun of trick or treating… and it is common to celebrate both. If you are in the area, you cannot miss celebrating Halloween Playa style! Get that costume ready and join the crowds trick and treating on 5th avenue.

Celebrating Halloween in Playa del Carmen:  Things to do

1.  Trick or treating

Every year, hundreds of visitors and locals go on 5th Avenue wearing costumes, dressed as Catrina Skeletons or even as an Xtabay. Playa del Carmen is the ideal place to see traditions merge and become something different, come and see and enjoy the party.

Don’t forget to bring enough candy to share with the hundreds of local and visiting children, trick or treating on 5th Avenue.

2.  Have an authentic Day of the Dead experience

If you want to learn more about the Mexican tradition of Day of the Dead, Xcaret has an amazing festival every year. The festival has theater, music, performances and art… and everything is about the Mexican traditions to celebrate the day of the dead.

You can purchase your tickets and receive more information here. If you are planning to visit Xcaret, your ticket includes the pass for the Day of the Dead celebration.

3.  See the Mayan Day of the Dead celebrations

Celebrating the dead is a Mexican celebration with deep roots in the native cultures of Mexico, but the Mayans have their own way to commemorate the dead: Hanal Pixan. If you want to learn more about this amazing tradition in an authentic Mayan Village, Alltournative organizes a tour every year, which takes visitors to an authentic Mayan village and allows you to participate in the Day of the Dead traditions. The tour that includes:

  • Round trip transportation
  • A guided visit through the process of decoration of shrines and the celebration of Hanal Pixan
  • Traditional Mayan food

If you want to learn more about this exciting adventure, please click here!

4.  Go party!

After all the fun and adventures, you can also do what people love to do in Playa: Party! You can organize your own bar crawl, or visit one of the local clubs and enjoy the special events organized for the day.

You cannot miss the fun on 12th Street with all the clubs and the best place to see and be seen in Playa del Carmen.

Playa del Carmen is a community with a rich culture, people from all over the world come to reside here and brings with them their own traditions. The merge of different cultures allows for a diverse and vibrant community, willing to enjoy and share with people from other places.

There are many options to enjoy an amazing Halloween and Day of the Dead, feel part of this amazing culture or feel at home with your own celebrations. Playa del Carmen is an amazing place to live and at Top Mexico Real Estate, we specialize in helping foreigners find their home in Mexico.

We would love to hear about your plans for Halloween, or if we are missing an awesome event… Please let us know!

Living in Mexico, Your lifesavers in the Riviera Maya!

Living in Mexico is an amazing opportunity for retirees, since a modest pension in your country of origin can stretch much more if you decide to move south of the border. As the dollar keeps strong against the peso, more and more people are looking to settle and enjoy retirement in this beautiful country.

There are over a million North American retirees living in Mexico full time, and an estimated 50,000 snowbirds that spend part of the year in the country. These numbers keep rising, as the pension system is failing and health insurance prices skyrocket.

The Riviera Maya and Playa del Carmen are popular destinations for retirees from all over the world. Some of the reasons that make it such a popular destination are the closeness to North America and the available direct flights to Cancun from almost every main airport.

Once that you have settled in your new life, there are a couple of things that can make your life much easier. Keep in mind that transitioning to your new life is always to have challenges, but a positive attitude and a good sense of humor is the best tool to deal with them.

1.  Get your INAPAM card

If you are a permanent resident in Mexico, you can get your INAPAM Card and get discounts in services, property taxes, museums and cultural events. Your INAPAM card also will allow you to get discounts on buses and airlines tickets; just keep in mind that the number of discounted tickets is limited, so it is important to buy them in advance.

To get your INAPAM Card as a foreigner you will need to present:

  • Either your Migratory Form (FM2, FM3), Carta de Naturalización, Temporary Resident Permit or your passport to verify your identity and age.
  • A bill not older than three months of water, electricity or landline (TELMEX, AXTEL, TELNOR, IZZI, ETC) with your name and Mexican address.
  • 2 “Infantil” size photos.

The modules available in the Riviera Maya are open from 8:00 A.M. to 3:00 PM and their locations are listed below.

Isla Mujeres

Address:  Av. Jesús Martínez Ross # 001, Isla Mujeres, Q. Roo

Phone Number: 01 998 274 04 22

Benito Juárez (CANCUN)

Address:  Región 94 Mz.76 Lt.3, C.P.77500, Benito Juarez, Q. Roo

Phone Number: 01 998 888 89 21 y 888 89 22

Cozumel

Address: Calle 50 Bis between 3 and 5 Sur, col. Adolfo López Mateos, Cozumel, Q. Roo

Phone Number: 01 987 872 56 61

Solidaridad (Playa del Carmen & Puerto Aventuras)

Address: Av. 40 Corner with calle 28, Gonzalo Guerrero, Playa del Carmen, Solidaridad, Q. Roo

Phone Number: 01 984 127 99 12

Tulum

Address: Calle Alfa Sur between avenida Tulum and Sol Poniente, Centro, Tulum, Q. Roo

Phone Number: 01 983 130 40 55 y 103 22 23

2. Enjoy your local status

Being a local has its perks, most attractions and archeological sites have special prices for locals. It is important to have a photo ID such as your driver license or Migratory Card. If you are resident of Playa del Carmen, there are special discounts at local beach clubs such as Lido, Senzi or Piola; ask for your local discount!

3. Meet your crowd

Living as an expat is much more doable if you make friends, not only you get a support system but also benefit from their experience living in Mexico. There are many activities that can allow you to meet new friends: The Rotary Club, helping in Animal associations such as Coco’s Cat Rescue, joining local Thanksgiving dinners, etc.

So, what do you think? Can you share with us what would be your lifesaver as a retiree living in the Mayan Riviera? We would love to hear your thoughts and comments! Let’s Retire in Mexico looks to share relevant information with retirees living in Mexico, either full time or part time.

Campeche – The allure of a colonial port town

Campeche is one of those places you might never consider visiting, when thinking of a short trip from the Riviera Maya. However, it is such a charming and romantic destination, you’ll never regret taking the time to go!

This beautiful port city was founded in 1540 and was the most important port of the Peninsula during colonial times, similar in importance to Havana and Cartagena. The area developed to be an important city, and the locals built elegant mansions, impressive churches and the traditional barrios grew around the main square.

During Colonial times, Campeche was a producer of precious woods, natural dyes and the main port for the neighboring Yucatan State. This made it an ideal target for pirates, so the city had to build a wall and fortresses all around in order to protect the population from the constant attacks.

Campeche offers it visitors a beautiful mix of Ancient Mayan cities, nice colonial cobbled roads, and the view of the sea along the malecon (esplanade). There is also a good mix of the old and the new, as you can walk along downtown and feel like you are living in colonial times, and then visit the modern shopping mall or the convention center and enjoy modern amenities.

Campeche Attractions

Campeche City

Campeche is full of charm, with its magnificent colonial mansions, narrow streets and the presence of the colonial life all around the city. Walk along the malecon, visit the forts and the remains of the original wall that surrounded the city, or visit the museum of Colonial times; we are sure you will be amazed.

Archeological sites

Campeche has magnificent colonial sights, Edzna is near the city and was an important ceremonial center, with an active trade with other Mayan regions. Calakmul is a large archeological site, located in a National park of the same name, and it also has a museum displaying both the nature and the archeology of the site.

Museums

There are many museums in the city and surrounding areas occupying the former bastions of the wall that surrounded the city, so you can pick your favorites or visit every one. The Virgen de la Soledad Bastion has an interesting Mayan Architecture collection, and the San Carlos Bastion holds an interesting history collection.

There is also the San Jose Museum showcasing the pirates, weapons and boats that used to attack the city, as well as other artifacts from colonial times.

Traditional barrios & their churches

Campeche grew during the Spanish rule and formed different neighborhoods, each barrio has a main plaza and a church; and the houses would be built around these plazas. There are five traditional barrios in Campeche: San Francisco, Guadalupe, San Roman, Santa Ana y Santa Lucia.

Each of the churches in Campeche are worth a visit, but the San Francisco Church is the place where the first mass in the continent was held.

Haciendas

Haciendas were the heart of the colonial economy, as Campeche was an important producer of natural dyes, cotton products, honey, wax and salt. Over time Campeche developed big farms, and started producing dry meat, leather goods as well as sisal, the fiber that made the Peninsula one of the wealthiest areas in the world.

There are haciendas all over Campeche, some of them have become hotels, while others are used as tourist attractions. Do not miss Hacienda Blanca Flor now converted into a hotel, and located just in the outskirts of Campeche, the Hacienda Santa Cruz is also well preserved and has an active production of palm that is used to make hats.

Getting There

Campeche is one of the best destinations in the Yucatan Peninsula, one of those under the radar places that will make you fall in love. It is located about 5 hours away from Cancun, and even less if you depart from other cities in the Riviera Maya.

To get there, you can go via Merida, with possible interesting stops in Valladolid, Chichen Itza, Izamal and obviously Merida. There is also the option to go down the coast and stop in Mahahual and Bacalar, and then cross the Peninsula with a stop in the archeological site of Uxmal.

Do not miss out on this amazing city and its surrounding areas, bring comfortable shoes, your camera and time to enjoy every attraction. Winter is the best month to visit, as the days are cool and there is a constant cold wind from the sea, so the long walks are more tolerable.

Let’s Retire in Mexico aims to be the best source of information about living in Mexico, please let us know if we are missing an important attraction or if you would like to know more about Campeche.

 

Snowbirds are Returning to Playa del Carmen

It’s that time of year when the snowbirds start to prepare for their return to Playa del Carmen once again. Leaving behind the cold winds, rain and snow and migrate south to the sunny beaches of Playa del Carmen for much fun and well deserved relaxation.

Since your visit last year Playa del Carmen has had some changes to the Fifth Avenue. You will be glad to know that more stores have been added to the La Quinta Alegria Shopping Plaza, and there are several others due to open shortly. Unfortunately, the Body Shop has closed and remains empty right now but we are excited to see what will open next.

If you remember, last year there was a large construction site just a few steps away from the La Quinta Alegria mall, where the famous Calle Corazon used to be. Now there is a modern five story plaza called “Calle Corazon Mall”, where you will find well known retail stores like H&M -which opened one of the largest fashion shops on Fifth Avenue, plus sunglasses, cosmetics and a new Starbucks, and there will be much more to come. Above the shopping area is the upscale Thompson Hotel with 2 rooftop restaurants that are open to the public, the Cinco and Catch Restaurant, here you can enjoy a fabulous meal and some of the best views of the city.

Hopefully some things in Playa del Carmen will not change as we as locals and snow birds enjoy the simpler things too and a big hit with both is Kava Kasa. You will be happy to know that they still have a great yoga lineup and their weekly local market has not changed, you will find your fresh produce there every Tuesday morning. Kava Kasa posts their monthly yoga schedule on their Kava Kasa Facebook page and any other changes that may happen.

You will be happy to know that your favorite bars have not changed and still have their amazing lineups to keep your evenings full of entertainment and happy hours.

If this is your first year coming to Playa del Carmen as a Snowbird, there is a great online community of Expats that are always happy to assist you whether you just can’t find the right ingredient or if you are looking for fun night out.

One of the forums that is very useful is Playa Info, where you can find general information posted from where to find pink lemonade to a lists of the best happy hours in town.

Another very helpful community is the Facebook group Expats & Locals in Playa del Carmen, in this community they cover everything you need to know for daily living in Playa del Carmen and are eager to meet new people, they even arrange nights out which is a great way to meet new people and expand your social group.

Welcome Snowbirds Old and New!

Upcoming Webinar – Expats in Mexico: You Asked, We Answer!

Here at Top Mexico Real Estate we have been hosting monthly webinars helping expats on the do´s and don´ts on purchasing property in Mexico, and also covering the basics of what to expect when moving and living in Mexico.

This year so far we have held 5 webinars hosted by our CEO Thomas Lloyd, and we received much positive feedback. We have covered many different topics including Purchasing Property in Mexico, Mexico’s Property Law, and most recently we had a guest to talk about the experience of an expat living and working in Tulum.

During the webinars there is a Q&A section and we encourage our audience to email in questions for Thomas or our guest speaker to answer, but as these webinars are held live there is only a certain amount of time allocated for it, and unfortunately not all questions can be answered.

Taking this into account we have decided for our 6th webinar, ‘Expats in Mexico: You Asked, We Answer’, to be dedicated to answering all the unanswered questions plus any new questions we receive from you.  This webinar will be held on September 29th at 12pm CST.

All topics will be covered:

  • Real Estate and Investing
  • Visa and Immigration
  • Working in Mexico
  • Weather and Lifestyle

During the webinar there will be a raffle for a chance to win a 7 day Live It Tour, a real estate tour designed to help our clients to decide on what property best suits them by giving them the chance to compare many different types of properties and experience firsthand what a condo hotel is really like. Plus, they meet with a lawyer to explain the purchasing process and to answer all of their legal questions on real estate and immigration laws.

The winner will be drawn live at the end of the webinar and the prize includes all-inclusive accommodation for 2 people, transportation to and from the airport, personalized real estate tour itinerary, and to be teamed up with one of Buyers Representatives.

Join Thomas Lloyd and this month’s guest speaker Sherri Dixon, who have both experienced moving, working and living in Mexico for this special Q&A webinar. Feel free to reserve your seat and submit any questions you have!

Save the date – Thursday, September 29th at noon CST.

Ideas for Rainy Days

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing…– Billy Connelly

As we all know Playa del Carmen is known for its beautiful white beaches and sunny days. But with the recent storms and with the promise of more upcoming rain a question arises: what is there to do in Playa del Carmen when you can’t be outside? Surprisingly Playa del Carmen still has a lot to offer.

Here in Playa del Carmen there is a number of malls that may not be as big as you are used to in the United States or Canada but are great for an enjoyable way to pass a rainy day.

One of the main malls is Plaza Las Americas, located north of Playa del Carmen has many department stores, a grocery store, Sears and even a Sally’s. For entertainment Plaza Las Americas has a 12 theater cinema with many movies in English to choose from and a small casino and video arcade.

Closer to the center of Playa del Carmen on the highway towards Tulum you will find the Centro Maya mall, this mall is quite small but it does have Mexican known stores, a grocery store and a cinema next to the food court that shows movies in both English and Spanish.

If you are feeling brave and think you can make it shop to shop through the showers the Fifth Avenue has 2 malls, the newest is La Quinta. This 3 level modern mall (partially outdoor) has many well-known shops that include American Eagle, Forever 21, Victoria Secret and brand sport shops plus more.

The second shopping area on the Fifth Avenue, Paseo del Carmen is at the entrance of Playacar Phase 1, the south end of the Fifth Avenue. At this open air mall all of the department stores are next to each other if do need to make a mad dash between showers to get to the next store. This quaint shopping area carries on the cobblestone pavement and is the home to many stores for all ages such as Zara, Diesel, Ultrafemme, jewelry stores and even a Harley Davidson shop.

If you are not in the mood for shopping and the storm has settled why not head to beach with your favorite Starbucks coffee for some easy exercise to listen to the roaring waves come in. While you out for your leisurely stroll you will see many surfers on the beach. As you know this is a highly unusual sighting for Playa del Carmen and this is the only time you will see people surfing since the water is normally calm, but on these rare occasions when the heavy rain comes it also brings these huge amazing waves that surfers cannot help to take advantage of.

In the end we are very lucky here in Playa del Carmen, we have more sun than we do rain so another option is to simply take advantage of this weather. Stay home guilt free with your feet up and catch up on your favorite TV show, start or finish that book you’ve been meaning to read and listen to the rain against your window enjoying a hot cup of coffee or bowl of soup.

Enjoy your time off!

And remember, at Top Mexico Real Estate…

we make it happen!

Neighborhoods of Playa del Carmen – Little Italy

As many of you know the expats of Playa del Carmen are not only made up of Americans and Canadians, but a large number of Europeans have also relocated to Playa del Carmen. So it is no wonder that Playa del Carmen has its very own area called Little Italy.

Little Italy has truly an ideal location, located in the heart of Playa del Carmen and is walking distance to the beach and the 5th Avenue, the main tourist area. In this part of town you can find a few homes but it’s mainly condos and the real estate options start from as little as 90,000 USD and up to 700,000 USD.

As Little Italy is one of the oldest areas in Playa del Carmen you will find large mature trees scattered through the area as it is illegal to cut down trees in Mexico without permission from the government, which results in much appreciated shade and tree lined streets.

Going by the name of this area you can expect to find some amazing Italian restaurants, such as Piola on Avenue 38 North, with seating options either inside or out that offers a range of brick-oven pizzas, salads, pasta dishes and vegan options, but is mostly known here in Playa del Carmen for their basil margaritas, a definite must try. With so many different restaurants, cafes and bars in this area you will be really spoilt for choice.

The white sandy beach is only a few minutes away with many beach clubs and bars lining the beach, happy to serve you a refreshing cerveza or a cocktail of your choosing. Further along the beach, approx. a 10 minute stroll away, you will find the popular Canibal Royale Beach Club and in the other direction the famous Mamitas Beach Club and Zenzi, which the locals and visitors highly recommend. But don’t be shy! There is many more bars and beach clubs serving different dishes and with their daily promotions you will have many options to choose from.

There are large supermarkets not far from Little Italy such as Walmart, Mega and with Sam’s Club and City Club you will easily be able to cover your household needs.

Remember that there are small fruit and veg markets in the area too, with DAC being the largest and more popular due to its large range of fresh produce but also sells cheese, dried herbs and spices and a selection of tinned / jarred foods that is not very common to find in Playa del Carmen. DAC is open daily and located on Avenue 30, one block north from Constituyentes Ave.

For organic produce, handmade goods and gluten free baked goods, there are two markets that come to Playa del Carmen once a week. Both are organized by KaVaKasa, one takes place right in their HQ and the other one in Les Alizes Condos, on CTM Ave.

Whether you are looking for a calm stroll on the beach, a romantic evening out or just a simple trip to the market, if Little Italy does not have it you are guaranteed that it is close by!

If you’d like more information about Playa del Carmen or are interested in purchasing property here, we invite you to visit our main website where you can search further. Please get in touch with one of our agents who will gladly assist you in any questions you might have.

And remember, at Top Mexico Real Estate…

we make it happen!

Maya Theme Park in Cancun to Open in 2017

Museo Maya Cancun

A new theme park will soon be added to Cancun next year, dedicated to exploring the world of the Mayans. The ‘Parque Maya’ is a private investment planned to be ready for winter of 2017 with the intention of promoting cultural tourism in the city. Cancun and the Riviera Maya have already had tremendous success with the Xcaret adventure parks, which were named among the world’s best theme parks earlier this year and recently saw the opening of Xenses, a new park on the same grounds, but this new park will be dedicated to promote the cultural tourism in the area.

August 15 will see the laying of the first stone, while work will be expected to take 12 months in order to bring this project to life. “The concept behind it is of the Mayan universe” said Francisco Córdova Lira, an investor of the Park. “We already have all the permissions and licenses to carry out the Park.” He stated that they are currently in the phase of accreditation for a bank loan, although some investments have already been made.

The plan for the park is to have three zones that are united together, including El Rey, archeological ruins that few currently visit but will now be promoted, and the Mayan Museum which opened to the public in 2012. The Park will be located facing the Museum and is designed for visiting families to learn about the Mayan culture and also have fun at the same time. There will be zip lines, rope bridges, along with replicas of relics and Mayan architecture. They will be distributed among the three worlds that make up the Mayan universe.

Getting to this point has come at an investment of approximately 50 million pesos. The development project was submitted twice to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat), but due to the lack of appropriate permissions it was put on hold, but will now see the beginning of the construction.

The investors believe that the concept will appeal to tourists, since the Cancun hotel zone will be providing more places of recreation and culture. Given the tremendous success that Xcaret and other adventure park have had in recent years, along with the continued boom in tourism for Cancun and the Riviera Maya in general, the opening is likely to be a big success.

If you’d like more information about Playa del Carmen or are interested in purchasing property here, we invite you to visit our main website where you can search further. Please get in touch with one of our agents who will gladly assist you in any questions you might have.

And remember, at Top Mexico Real Estate…

we make it happen!

Xenses Park in Mexico’s Riviera Maya

Welcome to Xenses

Last month the Xenses Park in Mexico’s Riviera Maya opened to the public, becoming the sixth adventure park to open inside the Xcaret development grounds. Recently I wrote about how Xcaret in Cancun and the Riviera Maya were recognized as the best international theme park and the best water park, winning the 2016 Travvy Award held in New York City.  This new addition is a 23-hectare property and was made possible with an investment of $25.5 million.

Getting to Xenses is easy. It’s approx 15 minutes by car from the entrance of Playacar Phase II’s across from Centro Maya. You can also take the bike path which runs along the east side of the highway all the way to the inside of the park. Keep an eye for some of the local wildlife like the iguanas, who will quickly run under the pavement when they see you coming.

Once inside of Xenses you will find a variety of things to do, including zip lines and slides, a river of mud and a waterfall. One of the more intriguing things you will find is a bizarre looking village where everything looks off. The houses seem like they are completely crooked and the road appears to incline but in reality it is flat. The optical illusion that it creates is so believable that you will likely struggle to walk properly as your sense of balance is upset.

The timing for this new park couldn’t be better, as this year is the 25th anniversary of Experiences Xcaret. According to the Riviera Maya News the concept is to “offer a range of new experiences for visitors.” For those of you who have never been to Xcaret or to the Rivera Maya this is a great way to explore the environment of the peninsula in a manner which is challenging and fun.

Xenses Park can be found between Xplor and Xcaret and is currently operating from Monday to Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. Because it’s has just opened you can take advantage of there being less visitors, making your waiting times short. Admission for adults is $59, children under 5 years get in free and those aged 5 to 11 get in for half price.

To quote the developers: “Upon leaving Xenses, all your senses will be awakened. You will distinguish in more detail the world around you. You will be a Xensei.”

If you’d like more information about living in Playa del Carmen or are interested in purchasing property here, we invite you to visit our main website where you can search further. Please get in touch with one of our agents who will gladly assist you in any questions you might have.

And remember, at Top Mexico Real Estate…

we make it happen!

TOP MEXICO REAL ESTATE

It’s Whale Shark Season!

Foto: internetFoto: Internet

The whale sharks have returned once again to Quintana Roo. Whale shark season runs from June to September, until the time has come for them to move to their next destination.

In the meantime, you have the chance to live one of the most stunning experiences in life, swimming next to them and being able to see them in their natural environment.

Whale sharks are the largest fish on the planet and with a life span of 70 – 100 years they can reach up to 40 feet long (12 meters) and weigh an average of 5 tons, though larger and heavier have been spotted.

Surprisingly for such a large mammal their mouths are filters feeders, meaning that they cannot bite or chew so their diet consists mostly of plankton which makes them completely harmless to humans.

Related: 10 Interesting Facts About Whale Sharks

In the Yucatan Peninsula you can take advantage of this annual gathering of the whale sharks at Holbox or at Isla Mujeres.

With a past record breaking number of 400 whale sharks arriving off the Yucatan Coast at one time, it’s one of the largest known gathering of whale sharks on record. You are almost guaranteed not to be disappointed.

The Island of Holbox is located on the north coast of the Yucatan Peninsula and is separated from the mainland by a shallow lagoon.

This Island is well known for its fishing and rural qualities but every year for the few months the whale sharks appear the little fishing village is bursting with people wanting to welcome the whale sharks back.

It is good to consider that with the new toll way to Merida, you can get to Holbox in 1 hour and 30 minutes, for 90 pesos each way.

Related: 10 Things to Do in Merida

Foto: Internet

Isla Mujeres (Spanish for Island of Women) is approx. 13 kilometers off the Yucatan Peninsula coast with easy access to the Island from Cancun, which makes this island a great day trip for tourists.

Isla Mujeres is usually a quiet place, but with the whale sharks yearly visit this little island of under 13,000 inhabitants is booming during their short visit.

You can find many tour operators located around the tourist areas both in Holbox and Isla Mujeres (or even on-line).

They usually offer boat trips out to spot these amazing creatures or even to take you swimming with the whale sharks, the experienced tour guides and divers have been doing these tours for many years and will be able to give you the best advice when swimming with the largest fish on the earth.

Be sure to shop around to get the best price and value for your money!

And remember, here at Top Mexico Real Estate

We make it happen!

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