Moros y Cristianos

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If you’ve got children or grandchildren Monday 12 August is the day to take them to Jumilla, as there is a 2 x 1 offer on fairground rides (it saves you some money too!)  Not only that, but the Cabalgata Infantil del Vino will have lots of entertaining floats for them to watch, starting at 20.30.  As it’s holiday time, you might let them stay to watch the drama between the Moors and Christians being re-enacted on the Paseo at 22.45.  Don’t let them get too close to the sword-play though as they use real swords (we’ve seen the sparks flying!)

If you enjoy witnessing Spanish traditions then Tuesday will be a good day to visit, as there is a procession of all the peñas (local associations) dressed in their traditional costumes and carrying baskets of grapes. They will start parading around town at 20.00, leaving from the Paseo and finishing in the Patio of I.E.S. Arzobispo Lozano. At 21.00 they will offer their grapes to the Niño de las Uvas followed by the grape treading ceremony.

If you are only able to visit Jumilla on one day, and if you enjoy drinking wine, Wednesday 14 August is one of the best days to visit. At 20.30 the Cabalgata Tradicional del Vino will leave the Plaza de Rollo and the colourful floats will slowly wend their way through the streets. I say slowly, because the participants are busy handing out sangria, wine and snacks to all the people eagerly lining the streets.

Thursday is the saint’s day for Jumilla’s patron, Nuestra Señora La Virgen de la Asunción. There will be a special mass for Our Lady at 12.00 in the parish church of Santiago, with the local choir Coral Canticorum, plus a solemn procession in her honour leaving the north door of the church at 20.00.

If like me you enjoy watching horses and carriages, don’t miss the procession at 20.00 on Friday. This will be followed by a free fiesta flamenca on the Paseo at 22.30.

Saturday is the day for the young and young at heart (particularly those with a lot of stamina!). The infamous Gran Cabalgata del Vino attracts thousands of visitors to Jumilla, all aiming to get soaked in red wine. Many people wear white – all the better to show off the wine stains – and they revel in dancing through the streets while wine is poured over them.  Personally I prefer to drink my red wine, but no doubt that is showing my age!

Sunday 18 August will be the last day of this year’s Feria. Mass will be held in Santiago church at 20.00 after which the statue of Our Lady will be carried to the Ermita de San Agustín. This year’s festivities will be finished off in style with a firework display over Jumilla Castle at 24.00. I suspect that after several late nights I will be watching it from our bedroom window!

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If there is a perfect time to visit Jumilla, it has to be during the Feria and Fiestas of August.  There is something to suit everyone: whether you like drinking good wine;  prefer listening to traditional music; love watching colourful processions or, like us,  enjoy all of these activities.  I have included the programme up to and including the first weekend of the festivies.

As you can see Friday is going to be a busy day with the official launch of the fiestas, including firing a rocket from the Town Hall balcony and the inauguration of the fountain of wine. If you don’t mind late nights, there is free entry to the Folklore Festival, which starts at midnight.

Wine lovers should put Saturday 10 August in their diaries now! The popular miniferia del vino will take place between 12.00 and 15.00 in the Jardín del Rey Don Pedro.  Last year all we paid was 3€ for a wine glass, then we strolled around the many wine stands tasting the best wines from Jumilla. What’s not to like? Also on Saturday, there will be a parade around town of all the groups taking part in the Folklore Festival, starting at 21.00, followed by a performance in the Patio I.E.S. Arzibispo Lozano at the more civilised time of 22.00.

Culture buffs shouldn’t miss the Moors and Christians procession starting at 21.00 on Sunday 11 August. Grab a table on Calle Cánovas de Castillo (there will be a charge) so you can enjoy a drink while watching, or bring your own chair and fight for a space along the processional route. Music, dancing, drama: the Gran Desfile de Moros y Cristianos has it all.

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Official launch of La Fiesta de la Vendimia, with the Niño de las Uvas

 August is an exhausting month for those of us who live in Jumilla, even if we are only spectating.  We met a couple of people last week who live near Pinoso, who said they were “all fiesta-ed out” after their own fiestas, and we knew exactly what they meant.

The programme for the Feria y Fiestas de Agosto shows 10 days of celebrations: at the time of starting this post we were only into day 7 and I was already flagging a bit and seriously considering having a siesta, which may have been the only sane way to survive all the partying.

Although there are activities throughout the day, most of the main events are held at an hour when many of our compatriots would be considering retiring for the night. Not only that, but you usually have to add at least thirty minutes to the official start time.  The Noche de las Antorchas was held in the castle, and with such an atmospheric setting we weren’t worried about the lateness of the hour.

The night of the torches in Jumilla castle

 We were fortunate to get tickets for the Gran Fiesta de la Exaltacíón del Vino held in the gardens of Salones Pio XII, which kicked off the proceedings for the 40th Fiesta de la Vendimia.  Our first year in Jumilla we had joined the queue outside the Ayuntamiento to buy tickets, but they had sold out before we reached the head of the queue.  The following year we queued outside the Roque Baños centre for several hours and this time we succeeded in getting tickets, presumably because they had limited everyone to a maximum of two tickets.  This year we used our contacts and reserved our two tickets in advance: it’s not what you know, it’s who you know……!!

Apparently there were over 1,000 people at the Gran Exultación, and we soon realised that it was the place to go to and to be seen at.  In our slightly biased view it wasn’t as enjoyable an evening as La Gran Cata, however with all our favourite bodegas being present, allowing us to wander around with wine glass in hand and ask for a taste of their best wines, plus plates of food constantly appearing, it was still a pretty damned good night out.  Being a child at heart, I absolutely loved the firework display at the end!

Entrance of the Christians

The first procession of the August Feria was the Entrada Cristiana on Saturday night, where we saw the first Christians approaching us at about 20.45.  As they were due to start at 20.00, we calculated that they probably left the Plaza del Rollo at 20.30, with the customary half hour delay.  Not that we worried as we were sitting with friends at a table outside Bar California, which was a prime viewing spot, enjoying some Jumilla wine. 

I have to say that I was impressed by the Gran Entrada Mora (the Moors) on Sunday night.  We went to watch the start at a spot conveniently close to Nuestro Bar, where we saw a group of splendidly dressed Moros enjoying tapas and drinks outside, while two of the bands had congregated inside the bar, with only ten minutes to go before the scheduled start time.  We decided to have some of the aptly named delicias de bacalao and a cold drink, as it didn’t looks as if the participants were about to go anywhere soon.  Much to our amazement, the Gran Entrada Mora set off barely ten minutes late. 

Although there are separate processions for the Moors and Christians, it’s all very civilised (apart from the fighting, that is) so lots of Moros appeared in the Cristianos procession and vice versa.  I do think that it is a bit unfair that the Moors have the most sumptous costumes, though the Christians looked impressive too.

Entrance of the Moors

If one fiesta wasn’t enough, we also enjoyed the National Folklore Festival last weekend.  The inaugural event was on Saturday night after the Entrada Cristiana, starting at 22.00.  The Jardín de la Glorieta was packed as we witnessed Los Armaos marching onto the stage for the traditional “el Caracol” before we watched several folk groups playing music, singing and dancing.

Impressive though it was, I think we preferred the more intimate atmosphere on Monday in the barrio of San Antón.  After performing several lively dances, the Grupo de Folklore Caramancho de Badajoz responded to the cries of “Otras” by persuading several onlookers to join in.  Luckily John and I were hiding in the shadows!

The neighbours joined in the dancing

If we had had the stamina there were dozens of events that we could have enjoyed, however we decided to limit ourselves as we were due to go away the following weekend – and we needed to conserve our energy for that.  We still managed to enjoy several folk dancing events, the Artisans´Market, the Solemn Procession in honour of la Patrona, Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, the Children’s Cabalgata and the finale of the Moros y Cristianos Fiesta.  The dramatic re-enactment of the Ambassadors and Parliament took place on the Paseo.  This event involved lots of fighting and bodies falling to the ground, the clashing of heavy swords with sparks flying and a large horse charging towards the Moros.  Spendid stuff!

Waiting to charge at the Moors

Of course most people associate August in Jumilla with the Fiesta de la Vendimia, and so we had two groups of British visitors on Thursday who wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  We showed them around Jumilla in the morning, stopping only to enjoy the Feria de Día (a glass of wine and special tapa for 2€) in a couple of good bars.  We had also booked a visit to Bodegas Silvano Garcia to keep them occupied in the afternoon. 

 The visitors had opted for the Cabalgata Tradicional (the one that doesn’t involve getting drenched in red wine) so we all met up again at 20.30, having booked a couple of tables across the road from Nuestro Bar.  Everybody ordered drinks and tapas, though once the procession reached us we were being handed tiny plastic glasses of wine and sangria, plus tastings of food, so we weren’t in any danger of becoming thirsty or hungry.

Cabalgata Tradicional - wine anyone?

I nearly forgot to mention the Miniferia del Vino that took place on the first Saturday of the fiestas.  3€ for a wine glass that you can take home, then a stroll through the gardens, where we tasted wine at the many stands representing some of Jumilla’s best bodegas and snacked on cheese, ham, nuts etc.  Not surprisingly we were there - as we have been for the last three years - tasting our favourite wines. 

An honourable mention too for the Ofrenda de Uvas to the Niño de las Uvas, which is one of the most popular processions.  We sat outside the ice-cream parlour enjoying home-made ice-cream (as you do) while watching men, women and children dressed in traditional costumes carrying their baskets of grapes into the Jardín.

Offering of the grapes and first must

 An amazing ten days of celebrations in Jumilla – now we have to catch up the many hours of sleep that we missed!

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My intention for the last post in July was to give detailed information about the forthcoming Feria y Fiestas de Agosto.  However trying to get advance tourist information in Jumilla is like trying to pull teeth – and isn’t helped by the fact that the Oficina de Turismo is closed until 2nd August! 

There are colourful posters on display all around Jumilla, depicting the 40th Anniversary of the Fiesta de la Vendimia, the 30th Anniversary of the National Folklore Festival and the 25th Anniversary of the Moors and Christians, however there don’t appear to be any leaflets or booklets giving more specific details. 

Research on the internet has given me a few key dates, but all I know about the Moros y Cristianos so far  is that the Noche de las Antorchas will be at 21.00 on Saturday 6th August in the Castle - and the other main events will be taking place between 12th and 16th August.

Moros y Cristianos procession 2010

National Folklore Festival

Music and dance groups from Badajoz, Almerís, León, Tenerife and A Coruña will be performing, as well as the Coros y Danzas de Jumilla.

Saturday 13 August

22.00 Inaugural session in the Jardín de la Glorieta.

Sunday 14 August

13.30 Music and dancing in the streets. The groups will perform in the different barrios of Jumilla.     

18.30 Traditional games.  Paseo Lorenzo Guardiola.

20.00 Sones de España – concert of traditional music.  Julián Santos Auditorium

Monday 15 August

13.30   Music and dancing in the streets. The groups will perform again in the barrios of Jumilla, giving you the opportunity to watch a different group.                 

21.30 Procession of the participating groups from Plaza de Arriba to Jardín de la Glorieta, where the closing gala will take place at 22.00.       

Festival Nacional de Folklore 2010

 The complete programme, plus details about the participating groups, can be found on the FNF website.

Fiesta de la Vendimia

Friday 12 August

21.30 Inauguration of the Fountain of Wine (yes, wine will be flowing!), Jardín de la Glorieta

22.30 Inauguration of the D.O. Jumilla wine stand, Paseo Poeta Lorenzo Guardiola.  This is where you go for your free samples!

Saturday 13 August

08.00 Gran Pitanza Fiesta del la Vendimia in the Plaza del Mercado.  This is a new event, but I gather that it will be going on all day, allowing you to sample various local dishes.

12.00 Miniferia del Vino,  Jardín del Rey Don Pedro.  Sshhh!  So far I haven’t found anything in print or on the web, but my sources have assured me that this popular event will be taking place on Saturday, and it usually starts at 12.00, so we will be heading there hopefully.  It is a great opportunity to try 2 or 3 different wines  and discover your favourites.  (OK, we usually try a few more than that, but we don’t want to be seen favouring a particular bodega!) The usual format is to buy a glass for a few euros then go round the many stands sampling different wines.

Tuesday 16 August

20.30 Cabalgata Infantil.  The children’s procession starts assembling in Plaza del Rollo at 20.00, then goes along the main streets of Jumilla, finishing behind the covered market.

Wednesday 17 August

Día del Niño The day for children of all ages to go along to the fairground, where they are offering 2 x 1 on all the rides.

21.00 Offering of the grapes and first grape juice to the Niño de las Uvas, Jardín de la Glorieta.

Thursday 18 August

11.00 – 13.30 Exhibition of all the floats taking part in the annual competition, Paseo Lorenzo Guardiola.

Cabalgata tradicional 2010

20.30 Cabalgata Tradicional  This is the traditional procession, for those of us who prefer to sample wines rather than getting soaked in the stuff! Again it starts assembling in Plaza del Rollo at 20.00 and follows the same route as the children’s procession. We can definitely recommend this one, as all our friends have enjoyed it.

Saturday 20 August

19.00 Gran Cabalgata del Vino  OK.  If you insist on getting drenched in red wine (don’t wear your best clothes) then head to Avenida de Reyes Católicos and Avenida de Murcia where the procession starts assembling at 18.00, going along the main streets of Jumilla.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you! 

For more details about all the events in the Fiesta de la Vendimia, check the Federation of Peñas website.  Watch this space for further updates, as there will be 4 concerts taking place, but so far I don’t know the dates!

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There is usually so much happening in Jumilla that we rarely go away for the day.  However our friends Lesley and John had decided to visit Villajoyosa (also known as La Vila Joiosa) for the Moors and Christians fiestas and asked us if we would like to go along.  Living inland we don’t see much of the sea, so we happily accepted their offer.

I think it was more by luck than good planning (sorry John!) that we managed to find a parking spot fairly close to the sea and, as we found out later on, very close to the processional route.  The festivities were due to start at 1815 however, although we didn’t park the car until after that, we saw a whole load of pirates having a drink so knew we hadn’t missed anything. 

Traditionally the assorted pirates, smugglers, fishermen and sailors arrive by boat, however on Wednesday the red flag was flying.  I suspect that in past times this wouldn’t have mattered, but Spain is gradually becoming health and safety conscious, so a group of them gathered at the edge of the sea instead and then ran towards the castle. 

We were slightly disappointed that there wasn’t any hand to hand fighting or swordplay, however there were lots of loud bangs, followed by even more loud bangs, and groups of people in various costumes running backwards and forwards.  Eventually the Christians were evicted from the castle (though we heard a rumour that they were going to re-capture it the following night) and once all the ammunition had been used up by the victorious pirates and smugglers, people started leaving the Playa Centro. 

We assumed that this was the end of the evening’s entertainment so headed back  towards the car.  The two men had decided that they needed a glass of wine until their ears recovered from the onslaught, so we were walking up the road to find a suitable bar when suddenly we heard music playing.  We had somehow stumbled on a large, colourful procession.   We managed to grab a table outside the bar on the corner and settled down with our wine and a plate of nuts to watch the Moors and Christians parade.  We enjoyed the amazing costumes and the music provided by several bands that were marching in the procession.

Four hours later, having had a free night’s entertainment, we headed home.  We had spent eighteen euros between the four of us for several large plates of delicious tapas plus drinks down at the seafront.  At the bar where we watched the procession, a glass of wine cost 1.50€ plus we had free nuts with our drinks.  It was a fantastic and cheap night out for pensioners and other people like us who are on a budget.

I would recommend visiting the town even if there aren’t any fiestas, as it is very picturesque.  Traditionally all the houses facing the sea are painted different colours: this is so that the fishermen can spot their homes when they are out at sea.  We also liked the fact that it wasn’t over-run with tourists and the prices for a bar overlooking the sea, in the middle of a fiesta, were extremely reasonable.  Not only that, but entry to the two chocolate museums is free!

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Grupo de Coros y Danzas Nazarín

So much has happened since my previous post that I would need to write another book just to relate all the stories!  These are the edited highlights:

Thursday 12th August: Gran de Exultación del Vino.  What a great party that was, as described in my previous post.

Saturday 14 August: National Folklore Festival, with performances in the streets and plazas at 13.00.  Well I was there at 13.00, as were many friends from La Asociación de Amigos de Jumilla who were the hosts, plus two officers from the local police – but where were the performers from the Grupo de Coros y Danzas Nazarín?  They eventually strolled up at quarter past one and by half past the performance had started.  The only problem was the local police had become bored and wandered off, so the Presidente of the Asociación had to direct the traffic!

What I loved about the different groups taking part in the Folklore Festival was the way they all obviously enjoyed performing for us.

At the end of the performance, guess who turned up?  Yes, the local police returned with barriers to stop the traffic coming through.  Sorry, guys, you are a bit too late: we’re all off now for wine and nibbles at the Asociacón’s meeting place!

Except that I didn’t go this year, even though I had an invitation, as John wasn’t feeling well so I had to hurry back home now that I had taken my photos.  I say “hurry”, however I had a slight detour to make.

Saturday 14 August: Miniferia del Vino  We know so many of the local bodegas that it would have been very rude to have ignored this event, wouldn’t it?  Yes, that’s what I thought.  I paid 3€ for a glass and was then able to go round the 13 stands set up by local bodegas in the Jardín del Rey Don Pedro for free tastings.  Not that I had 13 glasses of wine (of course not!) and anyway you don’t get a whole glassful, but I had to say “Hola” to Fina, Fernando, Silvano and many other friends, didn’t I?  And I couldn’t insult them by refusing to try their wine, especially when Silvano was offering his award-winning Monastrell Dulce. “Un poco, gracias!”

Gracias, Silvano!

Saturday 14 August: Entrada Cristiana  Luckily John had recovered by the evening, as we had arranged to meet friends at Bar California so that we could watch the Entrance of the Christians.  This procession has everything: fantastic costumes, music, dancing, drama and a wonderful atmosphere.  At regular points they have a jousting display, however I had to run up the street with my camera to take photos as it didn’t happen opposite our table.

Entrada Cristiana

My photos were a bit dark, which I suspected would be the case, after all the procession was due to start at 10 in the evening.  I say “due to start”, however we weren’t surprised when it started later than that, which is why we had grabbed a table and ordered tapas and a bottle of wine so that we could wait in comfort.

Entrada Cristiana on YouTube

Sunday 15 August: National Folklore Festival with more performances in the street.  We decided to watch the performance in Calle Calvario, as it was a group from Tarragona and we hoped that they would form a casteller or human castle.  We were not disappointed, although they didn’t have much space so it had to be a small castle compared to the nine storeys they usually form in the region of Tarragona.

Building the human castle

On our way back we bumped into Carmelita, who told us to go to a bar up the road where there would be a “comida” at 2pm.  We hadn’t made any plans so the four of us followed her instructions, only to discover that the bar was in a garage! The Asociación de Vecinos de San Antón were providing lunch, sangria and wine for the folk group from Asturias , however we were immediately welcomed, told that we were “Jumillanos” as well as being  ”Ingleses”, and asked whether we wanted sangria or vino.  You cannot beat Spanish hospitality!

They can't stop dancing!

After the meal, a couple of the musicians started playing and the dancers soon joined in.  Over two hours later we continued our journey home.

Monday 16 August: Entrada Mora  Another 10pm start, more or less.  Our previous strategy of getting there early and grabbing a table had proved successful, so this time we headed to Bar Canovas.  A table outside? Tick.  Bottle of wine and tapas? Tick. Camera ready? Tick. Procession starting on time? No way! Not that we minded waiting: sitting outside the bar on a lovely August evening wasn’t exactly a hardship.  We all agreed that, brilliant though the Entrada Cristiana on Saturday night had been, the Entrada Mora was even more exciting.

Entrada Mora

We enjoyed watching a dramatic re-enactment of a damsel in distress being rescued from the dark forces by our hero, although we weren’t really sure what it was all about!  Watch the video below, then if you know more than we do, please leave a comment explaining its significance!

Entrada Mora

Tuesday 17 August: Representación de las Embajadas y Parlamento de Moros Y Cristianos  John and I had stumbled across this last year, and thoroughly enjoyed it, so we persuaded four other Brits to join us on the Paseo Poeta Lorenzo Guardiola.  The performance was a brief history of the Castillo de Jumilla, which was originally held by the Moors until the Christians captured the castle.  Lots of drama and clashing of swords, which incidentally weren’t plastic imitations judging by the sound of metal against metal, with a few sparks flying! 

 

Thursday 19 August: Cabalgata Tradicional  This is the highlight of the Fiesta de la Vendimia so far as John and I are concerned.  We had persuaded several friends to come along and watch this procession, so we decided to book a couple of tables at Bar California.  Being optimistic we arrived at 8pm, although the procession wasn’t due to leave until 8.30.  Our major mistake was ordering a second bottle of wine, just before the procession reached us!  We knew many of the participants, who handed us plastic glasses of wine and sangria, and even small bottles of wine!  The floats were brilliant, the atmosphere was amazing, with lots of music and dancing, and it was lovely to recognise and be recognised by so many of the people taking part.

Cabalgata tradicional

Friday 20 August: Desfile de Carruajes y Caballos  I was due to fly to London on Friday to help my daughter Vicky celebrate her 40th birthday, however I had already packed and I didn’t want to miss the horses and carriages on Friday morning.  I was hoping that for once the event would start on time, however it wasn’t to be.  Still, it was worth the wait to watch the beautiful horses parading past us.

 

Saturday 21 August: Gran Cabalgata del Vino  This is the famous (or should that be infamous?) procession on the final Saturday of the Fiesta de la Vendimia.  To be quite honest, although it’s good to watch (mainly young) people enjoying themselves as they get drenched with red wine, once you have seen it you don’t really need to see it again.  Plus I had an important date in London!  John went though with a couple of friends, so this is his photo.

Apparently 80,000 litres of wine and sangria were sprayed over the 75,000 participants who came from Alicante, Albacete, Valencia and Murcia provinces and even the Canary Islands.  John saw several busloads of people arriving, however in spite of all the strangers in town there were no serious incidents.  I suspect that there were a few sore heads the following day though!

So the Fiesta is over for another year, and life will return to normal – except that we had a message from our friend Toñi, telling us that there is a Fiesta in Torre del Rico and would we like to go there?

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Fiesta de la Vendimia, Jumilla.

During August Jumilla has not just one but four fiestas to look forward to.  There is the renowned Fiesta de la Vendimia, the 29th National Folklore Festival, the XXIV Fiesta de Moros y Cristianos and the Fiesta of the Virgen de la Asunción, the patroness of Jumilla. Yes, it’s party time in Jumilla – and the wine is flowing!

On Saturday night, the opening event of the Fiestas de Moros y Cristianos was held at the newly opened “Roque Baños” Cultural Centre.  We sat outside, enjoying a couple of bottles of good Jumilla wine and some tasty tapas with our friends, while watching the proceedings.  Afterwards we listened to a concert by AJAM (Asociación Jumillana Amigos de la Música), playing several Moors and Christians marches as well as a couple of pasodobles.

The next event in the Fiesta de Moros y Cristianos will be on Saturday 7th August: La Noche de las Antorchas.  This is the first time we have been in Jumilla to watch the torchlight procession up to the Castle, so we are looking forward to it.  We are also hoping to get invitations to the concert in the castle after the procession: Musici Mundi by Jésus Parra.

On Sunday 8th August, Jumilla celebrates the Offering of Flowers to the Virgen de la Asunción.  At 20.00 the procession will leave the Jardín del Rollo, going along Calle Canovas del Castillo to the Church of Santiago.

The Fiesta de la Vendimia will kick off on Thursday 12th August, with the Gran Fiesta de Exaltación del Vino at Salones Pio XII.  Last year we queued up outside the Ayuntamiento, hoping to get tickets, but were disappointed.  If we are luckier this year, I will definitely post some photos on here!  The Gran Fiesta includes lots of good wine, local gastronomic delicacies, music and fireworks: all the ingredients of a great party (or gran fiesta!)  Our fingers are definitely crossed.

In my next post I will tell you more about upcoming events in the Fiesta de la Vendimia as well as the National Folklore Festival.  If you want a copy of our “What’s on in Jumilla” newsletter, fill out the form on the Contact page.

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