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 Post subject: Mapungubwe's calling
Unread postPosted: Thu May 21, 2009 9:42 am 
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Legendary Virtual Ranger
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I have received a long awaited letter from Sanparks.

Leokwe Camp

4 nights: 29/05/09-1/06/09
1 cottage: 1 bedroom with 2 single beds. Aircon. Barbeque facilities. Ceiling fan, double sleeper couch (not suitable for adults). Gate hours 06:00 to 18:00. No restaurant, shop filling station or phones. Open plan kitchen, wc and shower.

Firstly, I am filled with a deep gratitude to Sanparks for making this possible. I am also feeling very humble at the thought of those very special people who voted for me at the cricket. I truly wish I could take each one of you with me.

You shall all truly be there in my heart.

This is dedicated to the forum and the beautiful child it has grown into.

I will be taking my mother. She is at an age when the days can seem very long and the arthritis very painful. She is looking forward to this trip so much; it will add some colour and excitement to a difficult life. I will tell her of the many special people who have made this possible.

So, 8 sleeps :dance: :dance: :dance:

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 Post subject: Re: Mapungubwe's calling
Unread postPosted: Thu May 21, 2009 2:51 pm 
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LP, Jonty, CC, Lionspoon, Dankbaar, Elsa, Pumbaa and Mkb, thank you so much for the well wishes... :thumbs_up:

Sharifa and Duke, I will indeed be looking out for the elusive Pels Fishing Owl.

Micetta's :huh: made me realise that a little bit of background to this trip might be needed.

At the last cricket meeting, Sanparks northern areas had kindly given 4 nights accomodation for a family of four as a prize. It was to be awarded to the angel player and musketeer player of the match. One day when I get it right, I will be able to link back to our "dronk ou, nie dronk vrou and a lesser grey dingus" trip report. The cricket match is discussed in very academic terms in this most serious of reports. :wink:

Much to my surprise, I was awarded the angel player :big_eyes: and the four night's accomodation. I was really very bowled over, as I was actually completely unaware that the prize was for the players. I thought that it was for the voters. (In actual fact, I remember sitting next to JenB and looking at my name on a poll not realising what was going on.)

My children were most confused and bemused when I arrived home. My son, who is a keen cricketer, said :huh: you won what :shock: what did you do?

"I was wicket keeper", I said...

He just shook his head.... this is the mother who took out her fender because of her short sighted night vision.

"Well, I threw very hard", I answered..."so hard that I could hardly move the next day".. and I even hit a wicket... still trying to work that one out :hmz:

My children were originaly very keen to accompany me. We compared schedules and realised that this was just not going to fit in with their tight study schedules. After some deliberation, it was decided that my one daughter would take my place on the Wolhuter trail in July and I would take my mother for a special trip in May/June.

My mother was thrilled at the prospect of going away for a few days. She has not been well of late and this comes as a welcome treat. As her mobility has decreased, she has grown fonder and fonder of spending her time watching birds. She is looking forward to the many different bird watching opportunities that the trip will offer.

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 Post subject: Re: Mapungubwe's calling
Unread postPosted: Thu May 21, 2009 11:36 pm 
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We just came from Mapungubwe and you are going to enjoy it so much! It is truly one of the most stunning places you can visit. :dance:

I love Kruger, but honestly, taking in to account the difference in size, Kruger has got nothing on Mapungubwe for sheer beauty of the scenery. The rock formations are amazing, and the huge Njala and Boabab trees just stunning.

Do plan to spend a few hours at the tree top walkway! Take a pick nick basket, and just stay there. It is an easy walk, even for your mother. There are some lovely tree top benches, with a great view over the Limpopo. The best ... you are walking literally in the tops of the trees. Lovely birding and even animals passing right beneath you.

The confluence pick nick site is also great, but totally different. There you are high on a hill looking down on the confluence of the Limpopo and Sashe rivers. Just as stunning. However getting to the real lookout points may be a bit difficult for someone with severe arthritis and it can be very hot. Not much natural shade there.

A pity, but getting to the top of Mapungubwe hill, will not be possible for her. :( Worth a visit though!

Traveling to the "other side" of Mapungubwe, is also worth it. But drive around on the tar road and enter from the Pont Drift entrance, do not follow the dirt road entering in the middle called Den Staat. It is a rough and long dirt road. Some of the best scenery is actually seen from the outside tar road, looking in to Mapungubwe. On this side there is the most beautiful river forest and an excellent bird hide, where you can spend some time and rest.

Enjoy!

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 Post subject: Re: Mapungubwe's calling
Unread postPosted: Fri May 22, 2009 8:55 pm 
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P@m, Micetta :thumbs_up:

Imberbe, thank you for that advice. I shall certainly take note and follow it. I thought my mother would spend most of her time resting quietly watching birds, but she has already made it clear that she intends to do as much as she can.

Last night I lay awake remembering Bruce Brydon. I wondered how his family was feeling. I feel very grateful for the role he played in my current bush addiction.

I remembered one night in particular. This happened when I went on a "spoor tracking" course lead by Bruce Brydon.

When we left for our sundowner drive, he joking said that he would guarantee us an elephant sighting. We arrived at our sundowner spot and he took us for a short bush walk. At a rocky outcrop he stopped... there were the elephants... It was bushman paintings, still in remarkable condition.

Bruce spent some time explaining that this must have been a place of great significance. He told us that the bushmen would attach great importance to certain places and spiritual expressions.

He then stopped... and became very serious. Something was troubling Bruce.

The mood changed, it became sombe. Bruce in particular seemed sad.

We walked back in silence. I glanced at my one daughter. I felt that eyes were following me. She looked afraid. My mouth was metalic as we walked through some reeds. For some reason I was so, so afraid. Something was there.

Once we reached the vehicle, the rush for sustenance of another spiritual nature was just too fast. Our group grabbed hold of drinks and we each went to find a suitable rock..

"listen to the silence", someone said.

We sat, watching the darkening sky. The silence breathed softly. It held us all.. Africa was calling her children.

I felt as though the ancestors were sitting with us.. we were all united in one great hymn. There was no death, not at this moment. I was very aware that every member of the group was been touched by something we did not understand. We were in a cathedral, a holy place of Africa.

We drove back in silence. The usual banter seemed superfulous. Once back, we had supper and Bruce shared more of his experiences. He told us that the elephant painting had suddenly brought back the memory of his friend, Sam Fourie who had been killed by an elephant.

That night touched me profoundly. It was, in my mind, a mystical experience.

Mapungubwe seems to be another such place of the mystical. A place of heritage and the ancestors.

I was restless last night remembering this experience. I was also thinking of Bruce and his family. They would be preparing to say, "goodbye". This is a son of Africa.

Then I thought of the date..Friday, 22 May 2009.

This mystical moment happened Friday, 23 May 2003.

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The bird doesn't sing because it has answers, it sings because it has a song.


Last edited by Meandering Mouse on Sat May 23, 2009 6:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Mapungubwe's calling
Unread postPosted: Sun May 24, 2009 7:36 am 
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A Traveler's Tale of Mapungubwe... (if this is 'old news' on the Forum, I apologise)... Geere's description of the mysticality of Mpungubwe...

http://www.parks-sa.co.za/parks/mapungu ... jm3sdb27b5

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 Post subject: Re: Mapungubwe's calling
Unread postPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 7:05 am 
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Kathy, Spooky, Johan N, Hugh, Wanderw, Ray K, Cherries, Micetta and Wendy, thank you very much for your good wishes. I appreciate them.

Elzet, much appreciate the extra input :thumbs_up: thanks...

Kathy, Dotty, Lionspoon... yes it was one of those moments that remain etched in memory forever. It has got me thinking deeply about it's significance.

I can't believe it's only 2 more sleeps. My camera and binos are ready, I have bought and frozen the meat and I will do most of my other packing today. As Murphy's law would have it, my work schedule for tomorrow looks like a logistical nightmare.

I recalled something that happened in the past and it really started me thinking and smiling.

Many years ago, a collegue invited me to a "South American" animal healing retreat. She knew my love for animals and thought that it would be of interest to me.

The day was very enlightening and I tried to take what I could from the proccess. The faclitator was an "alternative healer" of sorts.

At the completion of the process, she told us that we would now receive our token animal. I was given a card that I had to open up to reveal my token animal. At that point I was very excited, what could it be :D

I thought of many animals and birds that would inspire me... any of the cats... an eagle... maybe a wolf.... a swift deer... this was so cool 8)

With great trepidation I opened my card.......... there it was a mouse :big_eyes:

I was horrified.... I did not want to accept this. I spent the next while trying to convince the "healer" just why I could not be a mouse :evil: there must be some mistake. :huh:

As I was leaving, she smiled... "One day, in your future, you will see the significance of the mouse, but it will play a very important role in your life".

That was loooong before I joined the forum and the day had receeded from my immediate memory when I chose my name, MMouse. Somehow the mouse has come back to play an important role.

Makes you think, doesn't it?

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 Post subject: Re: Mapungubwe's calling
Unread postPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 9:58 pm 
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Thank you for the welcome back :thumbs_up:

This morning's silence was like a symphony.

The darkness of expectation..

then
the one pure sound
a string
a single voice of bird..
and the rustle
a melodic breath....
just one breath......

it is all it takes...
to start a symphony.

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 Post subject: Re: Mapungubwe's calling
Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2009 9:20 am 
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Thank you everyone for your encouragement. :thumbs_up:

Let me start with an overview before I go into more detail about the camps and sightings.

When I was very young I used to love to spend time with my grandmother. I had a warm, comfortable knitting grandmother who had endless patience with her many, many grandchildren. (Hugh/Elizabeth's mother's sister) Work that one out :wink:

During the empty hours I would love to look at her knitting catelogue and samples. I would feel the textures and drink in the many, varied colours that were arranged in neat rows. It was a feast of sensory delight to a small child busy discovering the world.

This was my impression of Mapungubwe. Nothing could have prepared me for the many textures and diversity. It is indeed a magical place. Maybe we were fortunate in choosing a season still resplendant on autumn hues, but the rocks, sand, the soft yellow grass, the impossibly blue sky.... it all contributed towards a sensory experience of note.

I understand now why so many forumites have left their heart's there.

Before I give a more detailed account, just a little taste of what's to come.

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Mapungubwe's calling
Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2009 10:29 am 
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Thank you Lionspoon and Micetta. I really would like to do justice to Mapungumbe's mystique. It left me very sad at times to think of the threat of open cast coal mining to this pristine place.

Well let me warn those who suffer from the same ailment as MM, AAADD, age activated attention deficit disorder, this is not the place to do it :naughty: the nearest shop is 50km away and is closed on sundays. There is a petrol station and small supply store 30km away, but it does not stock firelighters or tin foil. :roll:

We arrived at Mapungubwe feeling very excited. I really did not know what to expect.
We had decided to go via Mussina as I was not sure of the condition of the roads. Let me put minds at ease here... the roads were excellent :thumbs_up:

This is the reception area where we were given a very warm and friendly welcome.

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After booking in we were given a map of the Park with directions to Leokwe camp. We were also briefed on the main tourist roads and which were restricted to 4X4's. I completed one 4X4 route and found it quite do-able. The other roads were variable, but generally in good condition. I saw a small Golf managing with no difficulty.

My first impression of Leokwe camp was :D :D :D :clap: :clap: :clap: . I was delighted. The cottage was an absolute treat to stay in.... what comfort. :thumbs_up:

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The camps in Mapungubwe are unfenced and blend into the surroundings. I'll post more of the rest of the camp later. Suffice to say, it's a camp that lends itself to total chill out. I could have spent many more days there just enjoying the ambiance.

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 Post subject: Re: Mapungubwe's calling
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2009 8:05 am 
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Petra, Norms, this is a "must do camp" for any bush lover.

Micetta, this was all new to me and I think I appreciate now how confusing everything must be for first timers.

CC :wink:

Elzet, the next istallment is indeed on it's way.

P@m, "idyillic" would be a good one word summary of the camp.

Pumbaa, this isa place where one could spend many, many days. I was so sad to leave.

Jonty, the accomodation was clearly very well thought out. Every cottage was placed in such a way as to take advantage of the very beautiful setting.

Johan N, the reception area was actually OK. The Park is divided into 2 sections and the other side's entrance was very basic.

Hugh, :thumbs_up: she was indeed a special, warm, loving person.

After arriving at the camp, we chilled out for a while before taking a quick sundowner drive. We were both very tired, so one back at camp it was MM's home made chicken soup and bedtime.

In true MM style I woke up about half an hour before sunrise. I made my first cup of coffee and went to sit and wait for the new day.

The silence was something I have never expreinced before. There was a purity in the air. Then, the first bird. It rose through the air like a single violin string... then a viola a deeper resonant sound accompanied the single string... then a clarinet... then the faintest sound of a harp... and so the day began.

Having my mother with me meant that I had to slow down to her pace. I think that it was very good for me.

While my mother had breakfast and slowly got ready for our first drive, I went to explore the camp. I was very taken with the care of planning. I went to the swimming pool area and while admiring the view my eyes fell one something in the distance....

I was so angry with myself.... how could I have come without my camera :evil: I ran back ...

this is what I had seen:

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my first sighting of Eland.. there were a few animals in a small family group. Unfortunately, by the time I had returned with my camera, they had moved into the distance.

While I was there I took the opportunity to get a few pictures of some of the breath taking scenery.

The swimming pool that is so perfectly situated.

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A viewing deck

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From the viewing deck

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Image

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 Post subject: Re: Mapungubwe's calling
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 6:39 pm 
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Micetta, Hugh, LP, a warm thank you for all your encouragement.

Senyetse, I see that you wil be staying at Leokwe, I think that you will enjoy every minute.

Sharifa and Duke, and Ingrid... take Imberbe's advice, go, go, go ...

Dankbaar and Cherries, thank you for your kind words. I get a lot of pleasure from writing my trip reports. It goes alow me to re-live memories from some very special places.

Imberbe, I thought of your posting many times, especially while adjusting to the different spaces in Mapungubwe. I am such a Kruger fan, I would say without hesitation, an addict, yet I found something special here. I think a big difference is that in Kruger I live in expectation of excitement... an unexpected thrill. In Mapungubwe, I was happy to wait for her to present her little surprises.. content to enjoy her charm as the day unfolded.

At this point I am going to forget about a chronological account and rather take you through a tour of the area.

My first stop will be the tree top broad walk.

I visited twice and each time had a very different experience.

My first impression reminded me a little of my childhood visits to the Natal north coast when we would stay close to a riverine forest. The smells were very reminiscent of the wooded ambiance.

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Despite this being a dry winter, there was almost a humid feel to the air.

On my second visit I was eager to reach my destination...

I could not believe my eyes...

What was that in the distance? a brown buffalo :huh:

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As I found my way up to the main hide I saw that it was indeed from the same bovine family as buffalo, but somewhat less expected :hmz:

Cattle in the bush :shock: They were on the Botswanan side of the border.

I watched for a while, not quite believing my eyes until I saw 3 specks in the distance.

Image

I watched as they moved closer and closer......

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It was a young family. The man was carrying a pathetic bundle of belongings tied to a wooden stick. The "buffalo/cattle" probably his only form of wealth... that and the bundle over his shoulder.

A sight so poignant.

He paused, looked at me... and waved.

This little encounter left me feeling very grateful for what I had. The comforts I so often take for granted. Their humble situation touched me deeply.

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The bird doesn't sing because it has answers, it sings because it has a song.


Last edited by Meandering Mouse on Sat Jun 06, 2009 7:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Mapungubwe's calling
Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2009 8:03 am 
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Jonty, I was fortunate to have many such special moments. You have to go there.

Micetta, Ingrid.. I find that the huge contrast between those who have much and those who struggle to have even the most basic requirements difficult at times.

Elzet :thumbs_up: thanks.

The confluence and the main picnic site is situated in the same area. It is, in my mind, one of the most undiscoved treasures of Sanparks. When we visited, it was almost empty.

There is a little tuck shop, but it really does sell only the most basics. You can hire a skottle or buy some braai wood, but beware if you have forgotten the firelighters :twisted: The ablutions are spotless. I also noticed that there are very good provisions made for the disabled.

This is the actual picnic area. My mother was enchanted by the bird life. I am sure that it must be a birder's dream in the summer months.

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From the tuck shop there is a short, well pathed walk to the "Pinnacle" look out point. My pictures cannot do justice to the scenery below.

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What amazed me was that this dusty, raw landscape was just a few hundred metres away from lush riverine forest.

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 Post subject: Re: Mapungubwe's calling
Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 7:04 am 
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Micetta, I am still constantly surprised by Africa :wink:

LP, Pumbaa, Katy.. the resiliance of people is amazing. I wonder what their story might be. It is always a wake up call for me when I start to feel discontent.

Jonty, believe me, it's worth a visit.

Quickie, my mother was with me and I was very aware of facilities for the disabled. She uses a walker or a stick. There are wheelchair facilities at Leokwe and the Limpopo tented camp. I noticed that although the viewing deck would have been inaccesable to wheelchairs at the Leokwe swimming pool area, the rest was fine. There was plently of space to enjoy the view without using the viewing deck.

The broadwalk is wheelchair friendly, as is the confluence walk. In fact Mapungubwe has the best paved walks that I have seen in Sanparks to date. They seem to have gone out of their way to make it accesable to all. Their was an inaccesable spot on the pinnacle walk, but again, there was lots of opportunity on the little walk to get pleasure from the view.

The best animal viewing spot, which is the hide close to the Limpopo tented camp, is also wheelchair friendly and has very good ablutions.

It is possible to take a short walk from the picnic area and view the confluence of the Sashe and Limpopo rivers. Here you can stand in South Africa and view Zimbabwe and Botswane.

Image

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My skills are too undeveloped to do justice to the magnificent views. It is possible to watch both sunrise and sunsets from the decks.

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 Post subject: Re: Mapungubwe's calling
Unread postPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 6:41 am 
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Ingrid, Micetta, thank you :D

Quickie, Limpopo tented camp also has facilities for the disabled.

Mapungubwe is divided into two sections due to private land ownership. The Limpopo camp is on the western side and very different in many respects to the eastern side, despite very close proximity.

When I drove into the Limpopo tented camp, which is set in riverine forest, I immediately thought of Tambotie. It has the same wild ambiance. It is a very small camp, so homo-sapien contact would be minimal. I immediately added it to my "to-do" list.

I did not want to take liberties in a camp where I was not resident, but I did try to get a few pictures.

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I spoke to a couple on the tree top broadwalk who were staying in the tented camp. They said that they were delighted with the accomodation, which like Leokwe, is semi luxury and has all the "mod cons" in the kitchen. It seems that the only change needed at the moment are more secure doors, as the primates have no problem with the current zip doors.

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 Post subject: Re: Mapungubwe's calling
Unread postPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 9:17 am 
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Amedeus, I agree, it is one of our bst kept secrets. Unfortunately :( it is for this reason that there is not a bigger outcry about the proposed mine :(

Micetta, it's not often that MM and practical get used in the same sentence :lol: :lol: It must be the weather :wink: I will have a couple of stories later though. Maybe, having my mother with me meant that I had to be less "impulsive" in some of my choices. I do know that I slowed down a lot.

Before I talk animals and sightings, this is my last camp visited, the Vhembe trails camp. What a beautiful place. :D It is in the most perfect setting, again, unfenced. Each tent has the most magnificent outlook. I can only say that who ever designed the camp, did it with intelligence and care.

I spent a long time talking to Leonard, the trails leader. He was enthusiastic about making a difference and took me to an outcrop where I could get some pictures.

I will say with 100% conviction, that unless some catastophe happens in MM's life, this is where I want to spend many hours.

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a little visitor on the way.

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While walking towards the camp, I passed some ellie dung, rather old, but impressive. Leonard smiled when he walked me back to the car, "that's to remind some visitors that we are in the wild and not to wander off".

oh dear, MM thought :redface: :redface: he must know me from another life.

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