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“Enveloped in nature, with some creature comforts, but not spoiled opulence” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Hacienda Baru

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Hacienda Baru
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3 Km North of Dominical, Dominical, Costa Rica   |  
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Enjoy Nature Package
NYC, NY
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
55 helpful votes 55 helpful votes
“Enveloped in nature, with some creature comforts, but not spoiled opulence”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 30, 2014

Hacienda Baru is NOT about a luxury resort or retreat with five-star comforts. It's not about $200 massages and $100 facials and sleeping on expensive European linens. Hacienda Baru is about living in the midst of a tropical "jungle" with pretty acceptable, somewhat perhaps modest comfort(s). It is NOT about spending $600/night for luxury. It's about spending a reasonable, modest amount, and in return, being surrounded by nature. If you need air-conditioned comfort, luxury milled scented soaps, $3000 mattress on your bed, or a concierge to attend to your special needs or requests, then look elsewhere. Neither is it a bohemian flop house either. The night time is quiet, somewhat humid to very humid, just cool enough to sleep comfortably. We did not hear anyone in a nearby cabin snoring. or a television set blasting. I don't recall if there were phones in the rooms, perhaps if one wanted to call the front desk. Daily maid service freshens up the beds, however, not with new sheets or towels. There's a towel rack in the sun on which damp towels, bathing trunks, etc., can dry in the sun.

It's at best "three-star" comfort when compared to other places in nearby Dominical. In pure American standards, it's at best one to two stars. However, the rooms are CLEAN, they are modest, and unless you have some issues, you should sleep quite comfortably. On warmer nights, it is perhaps 72-74 degrees (F), so a fan in your room can provide a gentle breeze and you sleep under a sheet, but no need for a blanket. We were here in December, during Christmas week, and we did NOT experience the insect "infestation" others seem to complain about. Our cabin was insect-free during our stay. In the forest during the day, there are insects, but we found a light application of insect repellent did the trick without any issues.

Our cabin had two bedrooms and a small living room. A "kitchen" featured some aluminum pots , a coffee maker, a fridge and an electric two-burner cooktop. We chose NOT to cook in our cabin, as we didn't particularly like the cooking equipment/pots/pans, etc., which were very, very modest and cooking tools like spatulas etc., barely present. A tea kettle will suffice if you need to make hot tea. The tap water is potable. Not air-conditioned, the cabin got very very warm during the day, however, it cooled down enough at night so that we slept well (with a small fan providing a breeze). A front porch provides an alternative to sitting inside.

The warm to very warm damp tropical climate made taking "hot" showers absolutely unnecessary. Even during December, it got into the upper 80s and low 90s during the day and low 70s at night. Unless you suffer from 'hypothermia' (you're cold even in the baking hot Sahara desert), you'll probably want to take a cool shower to refresh yourself. The "cold" water was at best, "cool", not cold and we found taking a "cool" shower absolutely refreshing. Additionally, there's a swimming pool to refresh yourself, as well as the ocean beach some 300 yards down a short two to three minute walk. By the way, the beach is essentially deserted, so bathing "au naturel" (in the nude) is a possibility. There are NO chairs or lounges by the beach, so bring an extra towel or a straw mat. Ask management for their help, they might offer something to lie on when you're at the beach.

The owner, Jack Ewing is all about eco-friendly. He does everything reasonable to use natural elements to reduce the carbon footprint and any unnecessary negative impact on the ecosystem. You can stay here relatively guilt-free, knowing that when you leave, there is not a ton of trash that has to be processed nearby.

What makes Hacienda Baru very endearing is because of the attractions it offers on site: Nature trails, bird/animal-watching, tree (rope) climbing, zip lines, beach swimming, and eco-friendly lecture-touring. They have tours around the property, and unless you cannot walk at all, you should be able to join. The tree-climbing requires effort, and you have to hike up perhaps 200-300 vertical feet to enjoy the zip lines, but you'll find the place very family friendly. Wheelchair-bound persons will NOT enjoy the property completely, but can venture to some parts of the property. I don't recall if the bathrooms are handicapped-friendly. If you are in very poor physical shape (you can't really climb steps, you can only walk a few yards on flat terrain) then you should consider elsewhere, perhaps. Folks in great shape will find the hikes here a "breeze". If you're not in the best of shape, but can walk hundreds of yards without issue, and you can climb a relatively small amount of vertical feet, you should have no problems at all.

Dining on site is excellent and reasonable. The restaurant is OPEN AIR! It's basically a large covered "patio" open to fresh gentle breezes; overhead ceiling fans operate as needed. Food is fresh, tastefully prepared, and definitely you are not targeted as trapped into paying exorbitant prices for average food. We found the portions ample, not enormous, but not ridiculously tiny either. The fish was often VERY fresh, and we liked the salads. The desserts were nice, but we didn't indulge. Food service was good, however, staff don't necessarily speak perfect English. It helps if you speak Spanish!

Nearby Dominical isn't a luxury town, but change is on the way. Populated with surfers, it has some very modest lodgings, a few restaurant choices and provides some alternative interest to just remaining on Hacienda Baru property. Apparently, a few upscale lodgings are making their way into Dominical. Thus, its somewhat bohemian atmosphere is changing. By all means, explore nearby. Remember, though, there are some rough roads here, and small rivulets to cross! In any heavy rainy weather, you'll want to be in a SUV rather than a car. We voyaged around and a little south we found a river to swim in with a waterfall, and some fun hikes. We ate in town and elsewhere. Jack will share with you the better places to dine at. We very much appreciated his candor and honesty, he's a remarkably modest and delightful person. (Remember, some owners will tell you to steer clear of other places, so as to coax you back into their restaurant).

Sign up for tours EARLY in the morning, or the day(s) before. No need for dinner reservations. Ask Jack about internet connections and cell phone service. When we stayed here, internet connections were not ideal. They may have improved since. We shut off our cell phones before we left the U.S. and said "see-ya" to the world during our stay.

Transportation: while there is bus/limousine service, we really recommend you rent a car. The bus service is very modest to essentially bohemian; you'll want a car otherwise you could feel trapped.

There is laundry service, but expect that due to humid conditions, some items can take up to two days to dry. Remember, "eco-friendly"!

Other tips: if it's rainy season, don't bring "sneakers" ("trainers"). Trails can get muddy and boggy. You might want to consider wearing light hiking shoes designed for wet conditions. Open sandals might not be as ideal as you think because your feet can remain wet, unless you prefer that. Bring plenty of socks, as cotton socks can day days to dry. Consider synthetic materials that can dry quickly in the sun. Some folks said "bring mosquito netting"; we didn't and found that we did NOT need to. However, there may be a mosquito season. Ask management for recommendations when you make your reservations. (The east coast of Costa Rica is known as the "mosquito coast"; Hacienda Baru is on the WEST coast of Costa Rica.) The on-property "store" is stocked reasonably well with hats, bug repellent, sun screen lotion, chilled beverages, energy bars, tee-shirts, and many other delightful things including local arts and crafts, post cards, etc. After a long tour, or tree-climbing, they gave us an iced towel to place around your neck. Boy, was that a great way to help cool down!

Room Tip: Ask about air-conditioned rooms if you absolutely need to have it. Beds are comfortable and firm...
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
hdabaru, Manager at Hacienda Baru, responded to this review, November 4, 2014
Dear RobGNYC,

Thank you very much for sharing the experience you had at Hacienda Baru here on Tripadvisor. I am glad, that you enjoyed your time with us. Of course we always try to make the stay of our clients as memorable as possible.
I am sure, that all the information you offered, will help future clients to get an idea of Hacienda Baru. Even though I have to say, that we don't offer air-conditioned rooms. We as an ecolodge feel that air conditioning is too energy consuming. Anyway all cabins and rooms are equipped with fans which offer a nice chill.
I look forward to welcoming you back soon at Hacienda Baru to experience the jungle of Costa Rica with its natural wonders.

Best wishes

Jack Ewing
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167 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (24)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Key West, Florida
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 25, 2014

The property was very nice. Had amazing views. There was so much to do there, but we were very disappointed by the rooms. I know we are in the rain forest, but the amount of bug bites and bugs in the room was disgusting. There were tons of spiders in the room and we found a roach in the bathroom behind the toilet (which really flipped me out). Actually had to sleep with a mosquito net on because of all the bugs and found another roach crawling across the shelf in the bedroom in the middle of the night. If I wasn't on a school trip, I would have left the first night. The beds were not comfortable at all and there were some stains on the sheets. We went zip lining on the property which was a ton of fun and the restaurant was really good. We went to a little surfer town 10 mins away which was also cool with some survivor shops and restaurants/bars. The lodge had a very nice gift shop that had very reasonable prices. There was also a pool on property which was nice. If it wasn't for all the bugs and if the rooms were a bit more updated, I would have given a better rating. But we did see a ton of wildlife. We saw sloths, monkeys, and much more. The beach (pacific ocean) was about a 10 minute walk from the lodge.

Room Tip: The rooms by the pool looked a bit newer.
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  • Stayed May 2014, traveled with friends
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
hdabaru, Manager at Hacienda Baru, responded to this review, November 4, 2014
Hello Tara,

Firstly I want to thank you for taking the time to advise for your stay at Hacienda Baru. It’s only through feedback such as yours that we are able to maintain and indeed, where necessary, improve upon the service we provide to our valued guests. We sincerly apologize that you found your stay not entirely positive. I have made sure to share your feedback with the team especially with the housekeeping to asure the quality of the towels and bed linen, aswell as the overall cleanness.
Mosquitos and ants and other insects are a constant problem in the tropics. We, as an ecolodge, try to use very few pestizides to protect endagered species of insects. We are sorry, that this led to your inconvenience.

Best wishes

Jack Ewing
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 25, 2014

We choose for this place because of the area, and we liked it!! The garden was super, we saw that the people really took good care of the garden. In the morning we did a bird watching tour, what we recommend for everybody! The guide knew a lot, hears a lot and let us see a lot. Not only we saw birds, we also saw a sloth (perisoso), a anteater and a cayman.
We didn't appreciated all of the workers, some workers were really nice and wanted to let us know a lot of thing (like the guys in the garden) but other workers weren't very hospitable.
Of course, nobody could do something about it, but it was very annoying; the mosquitos were all over the place (except the room) and they stole our blood a lot despite our reppelent.
The room was very big and beautiful!! Just like the pool.

  • Stayed May 2014, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
hdabaru, Manager at Hacienda Baru, responded to this review, November 5, 2014
Hello Carolien,

thank you very much for your comment and your feedback. We welcome all constructive criticism, as it helps us to get better. Clearly not everybody was performing to our usual standards, and for that I sincerely apologize. I have reviewed your feedback with our staff. We at Hacienda Baru employ almost only locals, who need more education especially in guest attention and service. We are constantly improving and hope that we can exceed your expectations welcoming you back.

Besides that we are happy, that you enjoyed your stay and the birding tour.

Best wishes

Jack Ewing
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UK
Contributor
20 reviews 20 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed May 17, 2014

Having spent 3 weeks in Costa Rica in cabins in various locations, this was by far our worst experience, so much so we left after one day.

The cabin and surrounds were ridden with mosquitoes and to make matters worse we woke up the next morning to find ants crawling all over our belongings.

The bed linen and towels were threadbare with dirty marks. The food was disappointing, we barely ate anything for breakfast.

Stayed May 2014
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
hdabaru, Manager at Hacienda Baru, responded to this review, October 29, 2014
Thank you for taking the time for your vaulable review. We sincerly apologize that you found your stay disappointing. I have made sure to share your feedback with the team especially with the housekeeping to asure the quality of the towels and bed linen.
Mosquitos and ants are a constant problem in the tropics. We, as an ecolodge, try to use very few pestizides. We are very sorry that the ants were able to get on your belongings.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oslo, Norway
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 30, 2014 via mobile

We stayed here two nights in laye April in a siperior cabin. They were nice and clean, with good beds, no bugs and nice porch. The restaurant has good food, good fruit drinks and very nice staff. They are very helpful and welcoming. The pool is nice and a good size, but it was far to hot. It gave no refreshing at all. And there isno shade around it. You can not swim at the beach so the pool highly disappointed us. There is also no wifi in the cabins, only in the restaurant and close by it. But for nature and animals lovers I highly recommend this place!

  • Stayed April 2014
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
hdabaru, Manager at Hacienda Baru, responded to this review, November 6, 2014
Hallo Maria,

Thank you for taking the time to share your valuable review. We are glad that you enjoyed your stay in our beautiful natural Reserve.
We know that the pool is getting hot, and are searching for an appropriate solution. Trees are unfortunately not a solution, as the roots would break through the walls of the pool. We hope that we can accomodate you again and reveal the modifications we are advancing.

Best wishes

Jack Ewing
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Santa Cruz, California
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 13, 2014

Highly recommend a tour (we did a hiking tour). You don't have to tour to see wildlife here but you'll see more and know where to look later when on your own. Staff were very helpful and spoke enough English. Because of the second bed in the room we had plenty of space. Ceiling fan and open windows were adequate for cooling and sleeping comfortably despite high humidity. The cicadas outside will probably wake you up; we didn't mind since morning was a pleasant time to be out and about. Reasonable prices in the restaurant and great margaritas. The red wine however had possibly been kept too warm for too long.

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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hdabaru, Manager at Hacienda Baru, responded to this review, November 6, 2014
Hello Serena,

Thank you for your feedback, we are very happy that you enjoyed your stay, especially the hiking tour, because that is exactly what we want for you and our visitors. We will check on the red wine and find a cooler spot to keep it. We hope to see you again soon, probably for a zip-line tour and a nice glass of wine afterwards.

Best wishes

Jack Ewing
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Seattle, Washington
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 6, 2014

My friend and I recently stayed at Hacienda Baru for 3 days. I could easily have stayed here for at least a week as this was one of my favorite places during our trip. Not only was our cabin very comfortable (it has 2 rooms equipped with a fridge and cofffeemaker in addition to a stove), the trails and grounds were fabulous. We walked along all their trails and saw lots of birds, including toucans, wood rails, blue crowned motmots, orange chinned parakeets, cherries tanagers, and a potoo. We also came across a group of capuchins and watched them for about 30 minutes--such a fun experience! We hired a guide one day and he was extremely knowledgable and pointed out several things we would have missed, including the potoo and sloth. He was one of the better guides during our entire trip.

We ate at the restuarant for all our meals (except breakfast that was brought to us for our guided hike) and the meals were great. The fruit shakes are not to be missed! I'm also happy I waited to buy my souvenirs at the Cacao Monkey gift shop next to the reception. Not only were things hand crafted, but they had a great selection and were very reasonable. I bought several of the painted feathers in frames which made wonderful gifts.

If you're a walker/hiker, take advantage of the PowerAid available in the cooler in the reception area (have to purchase). I found out the hard way that even though I drank lots of water, my salt balance got out of whack from sweating so much and my feet and hands swelled up pretty painfully. Once I drank the PowerAid, things went back to normal. We bought several bottles after that and kept them in the freezer in the room so that they'd still be a bit cold when we put them in our packs during a walk.

All in all, I loved this place and will definitely come back again to take advantage of all the birds and wildlife on their grounds.

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
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hdabaru, Manager at Hacienda Baru, responded to this review, November 6, 2014
Hello glaciersea,

Thank you for your fantastic remarks, which I have shared with our staff. We are thrilled to hear that you enjoyed wildlife to the fullest in our National Wildlife Refuge & Lodge.
We look forward to welcoming you back soon.

Best wishes

Jack Ewing
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hacienda Baru

Address: 3 Km North of Dominical, Dominical, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Puntarenas > Dominical
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Kitchenette Restaurant Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #11 of 21 Specialty Lodging in Dominical
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The lodge is located at the entrance to Hacienda Baru National Wildlife Refuge which protects 330 hectares (815 acres) of tropical forest, wetlands, mangrove and 3 kilometers of pristine Baru Beach. The refuge offers seven kilometers of well marked nature trails and a bird watching tower for a modest entrance fee. Guided tours with sharp-eyed local guides include two different types of canopy tours, five hiking tours, a camping tour and three bird watching tours. Hacienda Baru National Wildlife Refuge & Lodge is situated on Costa Rica's Southern Pacific Coast. This is a region of distinct natural beauty where forest covered mountains rise up from the dramatic Pacific coastline. The village of Dominical is just 3 km from Hacienda Baru located. Hacienda Baru Ecolodge's bungalow style cabins are large and roomy. Each one has two bedrooms, one with a double bed and the other with one double and one twin bed. Each bungalow has a bathroom with hot water shower, living room, porch, and kitchenette. For your convenience, they come equipped with fridge, coffee maker, hot plate and fans in all the rooms. They are ideal for families. In addition to the cabins, Hacienda Baru Ecolodge is now offering six new Pool View Guest Rooms. Each of these superior units has a large bathroom, a porch and ample space for beds and other furniture. Each will normally have a king size bed and a twin bed , but they can be equipped with up to four twin beds. Each has a frige and coffee maker as well. The attractive tile roofing is made from recycled plastic bags. A well ventilated design, insulation between the roofing and the polished teak ceiling, and overhead fans all insure cool comfort for our guests. All of the teak and gmelina wood used in the construction came from Hacienda Baru's own plantations. The wood for the pine beams and cypress furniture all came from plantations as well. Not a single piece of the wood used came from a natural forest. Solar heaters provide plenty of hot water for the bathrooms. The outside walls are slate and polished teak. The new guest rooms are conveniently located right in front of our new swimming pool. Our breezy open air restaurant allows you to observe the gardens and natural surroundings as you dine. We have five private ranchos for guests that want an intimate setting perhaps for a romantic candlelight dinner or a special family meal. Our menu is primarily very tasty typical Costa Rican food, but we do offer a variety of dishes for those who either don't like or want a break from rice and beans. We offer a selection Costa Rican fruit drinks known as FRESCOS meaning refreshing, soft drinks, a selection of Costa Rican beer, you must have heard of Imperial, wines and other licors. The swimming pool at Hacienda Baru Lodge is disinfected with ozone produced by an ozone generator which injects a constant flow of this eco-friendly gas into the water. This system of disinfection allows us to maintain a very low concentration of chlorine in the pool. The chlorine level is so slight that it is imperceptible to pool users. The swimming pool is open from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM. Guests from both the cabins and guest rooms are welcome to use the pool during these hours. Bird Watching, Canopy Exploration and Ecological Tours are our specialty. Our bilingual grass roots naturalist guides will help you discover the wonders of the tropical rainforest, such as leaf cutter ants, the sleepy sloths and the nesting site of the Common Pootoo. On our tours you can experience everything from the Rainforest Canopy to Mangrove Swamps or the Jungle at Night. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Hacienda Baru Hotel Quepos
Hacienda Baru Costa Rica/Dominical

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