BEST OF BAJA 2011

5th Annual

BEST OF BAJA 2011

The Baja Good Life Readers Poll of the very best that Baja has to offer. Thank you to all that voted and letting us know what you think is the Best of the Best in Baja.

THE BEST OF ROSARITO BEACH 2011
ART GALLERY
Photo Art Gallery, Rosarito Beach
“Ron Sharp, the owner, can take an old beat up photo and make it beautiful; he can enlarge it, improve it, change the setting, and even print it to look like a painting on canvas. He is a true artist and he helps our community in many, many ways.”

ARTIST
Alvero "Ugi" Morales
“Not only a great artist but also have a wide inventory of brushes, color plus more... Everything to paint...great prices.”

BAKERY
Raffaelos Pizza & Bakery
“Wonderful pan dulce - including mini empanadas. ‘Empanadas de crema’ are great. Very tasty and inexpensive pizza.”

BAR
Que Paso
"I do not drink but frequent the Que Paso sports bar in Pabellon Center in Rosarito Beach. Their appetizers are fabulous; potato skins and chicken wings are superb. Friday is their Fish Fry, which is great also. Olga and Tim Callison are warm and welcoming. They try hard to please us with all our needs. It is a pleasure to go there late afternoon. I make dinner out of a tasty appetizer. It is a pleasure to recommend these people."

BARTENDER
Nicholas Santos (Splash)
“I believe Nicolas is the best bartender in all of Baja. He is first of all, very good looking (tall, dark and handsome). Has the best personality, always in a good mood and serves the most awesome Margaritas ever! Always free pours, tells great jokes, remembers everybody's name and if that's not enough, he dances the two-step like a pro!”

BREAKFAST
Baja Country Kitchen
“We absolutely love Baja Country Kitchen! We go at least twice a week. The food is consistently delicious and the restaurant is always CLEAN. They offer daily breakfast and lunch, open from 10-2pm. Also, a nice touch is that the menu offers traditional Mexican favorites as well as classic America food. The portions are generous and the price a bargain. It’s also conveniently located right between Baja Malibu and San Morino on the east side of the toll road. Child friendly and a little morsel of dessert is always served with your check. Overall an outstanding restaurant all around.”

CHEAP EATS (good food for cheap)
Gustos in Facc. San Antonio del Mar. N.of Rosarito Beach
“The food is fantastic, the service is good, and the prices are great. The theme is Italian but they have so many unusual dishes that everyone can find a dish they will love. You can eat outside, inside, in where the music is or away in a quite spot. We love eating here and now seldom go anywhere else.”

COFFEEHOUSE
La Oficina
“Quiet coffee shop in beautiful setting and free WiFi and Direct TV.”

DENTIST
Rene Dominguez
"Dr. Dominguez does a good job of explaining what dental procedures are needed with some options. His cost is very reasonable and he stands behind his work. He speaks and understands English well, for those who have limited Spanish. He has a nice and clean office.”

DEVELOPMENT (residential)
Rosarito Beach Hotel
“I know this category is for residence, and this is a hotel, and although I love the Rosarito Beach Hotel, I think the new residential towers are incredible! We stay there once and it was a wonderful experience. The view of Rosarito and the Pacific Ocean from our room tower was incredible.”

ENTERTAINMENT - PERFORMANCE
Rosarito Theatre Guild
“Super great plays - one in particular DOUBT - great acting, great talent. Rosarito Theatre Guild is outstanding. They work very hard to bring the best in live entertainment.”

HAIRCUT / SALON
Douglas Day Salon
“Judith, Jose, Alex, Susie, Nubia, Hortensia... all are wonderful. Bilingual salon, attention to detail... They care about how you look and take all the time necessary to do the best job.”

HARDWARE STORE
Pacifico / Richard
“Always great to do business with. He and his staff are always ready to help.”

LODGING - HOTEL / MOTEL
La Fonda
"We love staying at this hotel because it is such a bargain. Sunday brunches are great and the music on Friday and Saturday is the best in the area. Rooms are so quaint with a million dollar view. Love it!"

LODGING - RV / CAMPING
Costa del Sol
“Reasonable price, nice facilities, good location but most of all, a wonderful landlord.”

LODGING - VACATION RENTAL
Casa Farolito Bed & Breakfast
"Lorraine and Peter go all out for their guests. They arrange personal pick-up from the airport, transportation while visiting and personal return to the airport. Guests have total privacy with stunning ocean views. It's the perfect place to relax and unwind."

PIZZA
Ollie's Fire Oven Pizza
"It is a new place but it has been done correctly right from the start! The moment you enter, you see several large dining rooms to serve you along with a real different feel for Rosarito. From the beautiful mosaic floor to the old world brick walls, the feeling is real. The pizza is great! The Tiramisu is just out of this world and everything is just great. A beautiful and fun eating experience."

REAL ESTATE AGENT
Kathy and Max Katz
“Honest, trustworthy & knowledgeable.”

RESTAURANT FOR MEXICAN
Splash
“Excellent food, great customer service, fantastic view. The owners Agapo and Nicoles always have a smile, and truly care that you have a good time with each visit.”

RESTAURANT FOR NON-MEXICAN
The Mongolian Grill
"Delicious variety of fresh vegetables, beef, pork and or chicken, noodles or rice will be prepared on the hot round grill after adding seasoning per your direction. In addition, a menu is available for Korean Tacos, Egg Rolls and other specials of the day. A super treat will be had by all as well as a healthy meal. Why not end the meal with homemade Italian Ice Cream called "Gelato ". The food is not American or Mexican, but a blending of Oriental seasoning with local spices. This is a must place to visit often. "

RESTAURANT FOR SEAFOOD
Splash
"Wonderful location on the water with crashing waves. Beautiful bar, inside and outside eating areas. A very friendly staff headed by the Santos brothers, one the chef, and the other a great bartender. Excellent and secure parking. Their Sea Bass is superb-always.”

RESTAURANT FOR STEAK
Tapanco Restaurant
"Quality of food, service, amounts of food, atmosphere, cleanliness, variety of foods, from seafood, fish, steaks (great rib-eye) to rack of lamb (the best!), great deserts and of course wonderful Margaritas! Alfredo takes very good care of all of us. "

WIFI LOCATION
Gusto's
"When you lose your Internet at home, Gusto's is a great place to come for breakfast and be online!"

WRITE-IN WINNERS
Some businesses have such a loyal local following that even when their is not a category for their candidate, they vote for them anyways. These winners received the necessary qualifying number of votes, and they didn’t even have a category - Congratulations!

SENOR CARE
Casa El Jardin
“My pick will surprise most of you only because it was not one of the categories, but I just had to add them. It is a convalescent home located at the north end of Rosarito. They have the most caring staff, and by far less expensive than the states. Facility is clean; one to a room and all of the staff speaks excellent English. I know of them because I had my 97-year-old mother there after being in the states. Look them up at their web site, www.casaeljardin.com”

FITNESS/GYM
Vive Fitness
Best gym: Very pleasant layout, interior, and location near the Redondo Beach Hotel. Great staff. Good range of machines. Big space for classes. Good media for classes played on big screen TV (novel idea!) Juice bar area. Good prices! Just join for the equipment, or pay a little more for all the classes you want. Dedicated to senior citizens, not just the young folks. English-language is spoken; great for the expats.
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THE BEST OF ENSENADA 2011
BEST BAKERY
Flippin Kneads Panaderia
“Wonderful baked goods and amazing apple pies. Lee and Rachel are great people! They’re across the street from Jessica's veterinary clinic. Stop in for delicious breads, pastries, La Casita coffee and some Baja Chocolate from San Felipe.”

BEST BARTENDER
Gonzalo at Ruben's Lighthouse
“He's pleasant, kind, helpful, good-humored, sober, and he spends his Sundays with the local orphans. He and his friends have made a small workout gym that they share with others who want to work out. He seems like a very decent young man who contributes to his community.”

BEST CHEAP EATS (good food for cheap)
La Salina Cantina
“Very good food at very reasonable prices. Very clean, but cantina rustic style. Best hamburgers in Baja! Awesome fish & Mexican food. Great expat crowd. Super bar and patio with views of the ocean and great sunsets.“

BEST COFFEEHOUSE
Lizard Lounge
“The most beautifully decorated and most comfortable coffee house I've ever been in. A lovely menu, great sandwiches, good drinks and coffee, a great ambiance. Elegant and earthy, local art cover the walls.”

BEST DENTIST
Dr. Avila
“Well educated, nice, good English, and incredibly fast, fair prices, and will see you fast in emergency.”

BEST DEVELOPMENT (residential)
Bajamar
“Bajamar has a remarkable location, amazing vistas, and wildlife, and has a long-term infrastructure that has ensured that the residential community remains vibrant, secure and stable. It's only an hour from San Diego and 20 minutes from either Rosarito or Ensenada. Really a cool place to live the Baja experience.”

BEST ENTERTAINMENT - MUSIC GROUP
The Old Machine
“La Fonda House band - I love them. Nice mix of Latin music and American oldies. The singer, Luis, has just the right voice for every kind of music. I can dance to all their styles because they get the rhythm just right. I never get tired of their repertoire. They have a sincerity, honesty and freshness I appreciate.”

BEST NIGHTCLUB
La Fonda
“I'm not sure it is a nightclub, I think of it as a restaurant, and the prime rib is amazing, but it looks like a club and it's the band I go for. I love to dance there on the deck over the beach, to watch the sunset, or the moon over the water. However, I love it most because it's like Coffee House Positano in Malibu, California in the late 50's. Very interesting people come, some play music with the band or on their own. Conversation is always new and exciting, and I fit in there like nowhere else. It's my cheers only more exotic, lower lights and brighter people.”

BEST REAL ESTATE BROKER
David Tramp
“I like him, not pushy, honest, easy going, really knows the area.”

BEST RESTAURANT FOR STEAK
Sanos
“Because they are always wonderful. Great atmosphere, their staffs are efficient and friendly, the food is always delicious.”

BEST HAPPY HOUR
Magana's Restaurant
“Magana's is the local favorite in La Mision. Daniel and wife Olga have created the perfect local bar that beats all others in prices and quality of drink! Every Wed. Daniel and Olga have 2-for-1 regular margaritas, well drinks, and beer. David and Adrianna serve with a great smile. By the way, Ride up on a horse with the La Mision Equestrians and receive a discount on your Margaritas! Fun and entertaining Karaoke on Thursdays at 4pm. Early enough for those old fogies like me!”

BEST RESTAURANT FOR NON-MEXICAN
Café Orleans
“There is nothing like a great American breakfast; you know the pancakes, eggs, bacon, some real sausage, and fresh squeezed Florida orange juice! Does it get any better, and Café Orleans does it the best! They also offer a great hamburgers, Rubén, or club sandwich. A good place to meet other expats. Half mile past the Riviera next to the Chevrolet dealership.”

BEST RESTAURANT FOR SEAFOOD
Marco Antonio's Seafood
“Tacos Marco Antonio, has specialized in seafood stews (guisados). Tacos range from 14 to 35 pesos. Whether it is their incredible tacos or made-to-order plates of seafood like salmon and shrimp, you’re going to love this place and their price.”

BEST PIZZA
Ochentos Pizza
“In the wine valley, Valle de Guadalupe, this very cool pizza place is perched up on a hill overlooking San Antonio de las Minas. Unlike many places in the wine valley, it is extremely reasonable in price and a whole lot of fun. Moreover, the pizza is wonderful!”

BEST WINERY / WINE
Casa de Piedra
“The quality on this Winery can’t be compared with any other.”
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THE BEST OF SAN FELIPE 2011
ARTIST
Steve Sherrod
“A Self Taught Artist who works in Ornamental Iron and Metals. He also gives back to the San Felipe Community in so many ways. Always there to lend a helping hand.”

BAKERY
Panaderia Especial
“Always fresh, always delicious with a really great variety. I wasn’t even aware of this bakery until they won this same poll a couple years ago, and I can see why. Yummy pastries”

BAR
Al's Backstreet Bar
"Everyone dreams of going to a ‘dive bar’ in a seedy neighborhood, but worries about their safety. Al's Bar is the place! So long as you park right outside and go directly in, you can't be safer, yet you'll be in another world. You'll feel like you’re in a Hemingway hangout surrounded by characters out of a Fellini movie while enjoying the company of fellow expats and the best cocktails in town, at Mexican prices. Highly recommended for adventurous couples of any age (over 18 of course)"

BARTENDER
Alberto Diaz
“He's the BEST Entertaining Bartender in Baja Norte! He knows his customers & makes Friends with every new customer!”

BREAKFAST
Road Runner Cafe
“Always friendly, fast and excellent service and food very good. It is our favorite breakfast spot for sure.”

CONSTRUCTION (Residential)
Sweitzer Construction Management
“BJ Sweitzer is the best - she is honest, respectful of the Mexican culture and community, she and Carlos Mora build a high quality home, and her integrity is unparalleled.”

DENTIST
California Dental
“Great work at a reasonable price. The staff and the music are a treat.”

DEVELOPMENT (residential)
Playa de Oro
“It is such a picturesque place! With Rumors and the new Lemon tree market in the commercial area up front and the easy access we have to the Sea of Cortez, we are happy to be where we are.”

ENTERTAINMENT - KARAOKE
Mac & Nan Davis
“It's always a party at their karaoke, and they are the only ones I have met that will invite you to their house to help you try songs you never thought you could do, and encourage you to expand your singing capabilities.“

ENTERTAINMENT - MUSIC GROUP
Los Secretos De Susana
“Isaac & the boys of Los Secretos De Susana are taking the Musical Group Category, in San Felipe, by Storm! They're So Good that they play in Multiple Bands! True Musical Workhorses...with Magic!”

ENTERTAINMENT - PERFORMANCE
Denny Flannigan
“He's the BEST Entertainer in San Felipe! One of Only 2 true Professional Entertainers in San Felipe! He just puts on the best show!”

FISH MARKET
Rubens
“Fresh and well-priced”

HAIRCUT / SALON
Lilyanna's
“KC is a great business owner. His employees give great manicures and pedicures. It's a fun place and CLEAN. Prices are great!”

HAPPY HOUR
Rumors Bar & Grill
“Monday - Friday from 2 - 5pm + Specials on "Bartenders' Choice" Drinks! Casual, Fun & Friendly Atmosphere!”

LANDSCAPER
Versoleil
“Guillermo has great innovative ideas; great follow-up; at least one of the crew speaks English; he personally checks the work being done on a regular basis.“

LIQUOR STORE
Licores Riviera
“Friendly knowledgeable staff with good prices and product, especially when you need it!”

LODGING - HOTEL / MOTEL
Georges Hotel
“Nice clean hotel and good prices too”.

LODGING - VACATION RENTAL
San Felipe Beach Front Rental
“Best villa, best beach, best location, best prices”

MAIL SERVICE
SunRunner
“They are the best and friendliest!”

MARKET / GROCERY
Pelicano Market
“On the north end of town, there is no better for produce, dairy or meats. Great prices, lowest we’ve found and in addition, since my husband and I are [Baja] Good Life Members, we get an addition 5% off on Wednesdays; which adds up since we shop weekly; that’s 20% off my grocery bill each month! Plus, I think the family that owns it is very nice.”

NIGHTCLUB
Rumors Bar & Grill
“Proven to throw the best parties, fundraisers and local artist events! Fair prices for food and beverages. Dedicated to customer satisfaction and owner and staff are always willing to accommodate special needs/requests from the customers! Fun and comfortable place to hang out.”

PIZZA
Sand Rail
“I don’t know what has changed over the last couple years, but boy, oh buy, they really improved the pizza! Didn’t use to like it, now we love it. The individual pizza with a dinner salad is an awesome deal and taste great too.”

REAL ESTATE AGENT
Patty Camacho
“When they are as nice as Patty, with a big welcoming smile each time you meet her, you can’t help but want to give her your vote. Works hard, and cares about her clients.”

REAL ESTATE BROKER
Abatti & Gutierrez Real Estate
“Gio is great and tells it like it is.”

RESTAURANT FOR MEXICAN
Juanitos
“Best chiliquilla anywhere”

RESTAURANT FOR NON-MEXICAN
Blowin' Smoke
“One of a kind restaurant in San Felipe. Food is delicious. Friendly service.”

RESTAURANT FOR SEAFOOD
La Vaquita
“I had the fish platter which was amazing. Coconut shrimp and fish, octopus, and other cooked fish. It was a delight to the palate. “

RESTAURANT FOR STEAK
El Nido Restaurant
“A local favorite and some very nice people. I suggest the “Early Bird Special” before 4PM, it a menu of delicious choices at very low prices and nothing is small, or skimped on…wish I could go there more often.”

SWEETS AND DESERTS
Baja Chocolate Lovers
“The English toffee is really good, could have been made in England, the chocolate Baja was a hit for Christmas presents last year we sent them to relatives in the US. “

WIFI LOCATION
Rumors Bar & Grill
“Great views & comfortable location with plenty of accessibility for charging batteries while surfing!”
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THE BEST OF MULEGE 2011
CHEAP EATS (good food for cheap)
The Jungle Jim’s Bar and Restaurant
“Good food at the cheap. Don't arrive after 5:30 on Thursday or you ain't gettin' any chile rellenos!”

LODGING - RV / CAMPING
Playa Coyote
“This has got to be the coolest beach in all of Baja. The water is spectacular, the comradary of the other beach campers is fabulous. Each year this is the destination of choice, however I must say it is getting tougher to get a spot, the later in the season.”

PIZZA
Scotty's el Candil
“Cause it's the best pizza in Mexico.”
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THE BEST OF LA PAZ 2011
FISHING TOUR
Jonathan Roldan's Tailhunter International
“The owners, Jonathan and Jill are two of the nicest people you ever meet and their fishing business reflects both their attention to detail and their accommodating demeanor. Most enjoyable vacation my wife and I have experienced in a very long time.”

RESTAURANT FOR NON-MEXICAN
Tailhunter Bar and Fubar Cantina
“In addition to the awesome Mexican grub, they have even better non-Mexican food and atmosphere is lively and fun. Great place to hang on a beautiful Baja day. Try the French fries with cheese and special steak sauce, especially alongside their monster burger - yummy! Can’t miss them on the Malecón.”

RESTAURANT FOR MEXICAN
Mar y Pena
“Off the beaten path, but this family run establishment has the best authentic Mexican seafood dishes! Try the seafood soup for a hearty meal in itself. There are nearly 60 seafood dishes available on the menu. They are also part of a seafood co-op, which means their fish is always fresh, fresh, fresh.”

RESTAURANT FOR STEAK
Buffalo BBQ
“Mouthwatering mesquite grilled steaks with a nice wine list to go with it. Not the cheapest meal in town, but even being the frugal diner as I am, it was worth it.”

RESTAURANT FOR CHEAP EATS
Rancho Viejo
“Great place to eat! Easily the best taco in town and the arrachera here is tender, flavorful and delicious! I have eaten there many times, and never had a bad experience. In addition the savory arrachera tacos, they have tasty battered fish tacos and even a terrific breakfast.”
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THE BEST OF LORETO 2011
LODGING - HOTEL / MOTEL
La Mision Hotel
“Service, ambiance and food are lovely. The best in relaxation poolside, directly across the Sea of Cortez and Loreto Malecón. We have always enjoyed our stay. “

RESTAURANT FOR NON-MEXICAN
Augie’s Bar & Bait Shop
“This places does it right. Other businesses should use this guy’s format for their own businesses. I’ve never been in there and not have a good time. The best non-Mexican food in town is the yellowtail sashimi sushi – the tastiest, freshest and most favorable food in Baja. Not to mention, happy hour with hot wings one day, pizza another, garlic clams on another, gringo tacos on yet another. Oh yah, and it’s all free, served up with the coldest beer in town.”

PIZZA
Bruno's Trattoria
"Fabulous pizza! Great location and friendly people. It’s wonderful pizza, and they deliver!”

RESTAURANT FOR SEAFOOD
Loreto Islas
“Loreto Islas is simply the best and most authentic Baja seafood restaurant! The best item on the menu is the Pescado Ajo. The fish is always fresh and the service is top notch! Every trip I make down to Loreto is not complete without have dinner at Loreto Islas.”
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THE BEST OF LOS BARRILES 2011
BAR
Smokey's Grill & Cantina
“Great margaritas and the best Jalapeno poppers I've had anywhere! Friendly people! “

RESTAURANT FOR MEXICAN
El Viejo Restaurant
“Small, cool little place with excellent tacos, and terrific Mexican breakfast. When we visit Los Barriles we eat out a lot, but we probably go here more than anywhere else does. “

BREAKFAST
Martin Verdugo’s Beach Resort
“The restaurant in front of the hotel offers the best breakfast we have had in Baja. Big delicious portions, and real country sausage. Plus, the last time we were there the whole menu was only about $5.”

CHEAP EATS (good food for cheap)
Three Dog Corner
“The best hamburger, hot dogs, and Papas all at a fair price. When the sun goes down amazing atmosphere.”

HAIRCUT / SALON
Salon de Cortez
“Sandy and her staff at Salon de Cortez go out of their way to make their clients comfortable and provide excellent services for all ages, male or female. I live in San Francisco area and her cuts and hair-coloring services are just as good as some salons in San Francisco. I also recommend their nail services - manicures and pedicures are a must in the harsh Baja elements and they use the best products to soothe those sore feet! My whole family looks forward to visiting Sandy and her staff when we are in Los Barriles.”

RESTAURANT FOR NON-MEXICAN
Otro Vez Restaurant
“This is our favorite for non-Mexican food hands down. They specializes in pasta, beef, seafood, and fish and the pizza is true Italian and out of this world and don't forget their tasty Sunday brunch.”

HARDWARE STORE
Molinas
“Best hardware store ever. Everything in its place and a great staff.”

RESTAURANT FOR SEAFOOD
Bay View Restaurant
“Great food, service and the most beautiful setting.”

TOURS
ExotiKite Kiteboarding
“I learned to kite surf with ExotiKite and was blown away by just how good they were. The instruction was top notch, everyone was enthusiastic and friendly and the whole experience was amazing! Having traveled all over the world and working in the tourism industry myself, I feel that I am more than qualified to say that the service I received from Exotikite surpassed by far any other that I have received...they easily have to be the best business in Baja by a long way...thank you ExotiKite!”

LODGING - HOTEL / MOTEL
Los Pescadores
“All I can say is awesome! Best hang out, best motel, best pool, best bar, best host Patti, and coldest beer - love this place!”

ENTERTAINMENT - PERFORMANCE
Roadrunner Café
“I know it's also a great café, but I must give kudos to Bob for providing such great local entertainment and fun too.”

FISHING TOUR
Congos Deep Sea Fishing
“Captain Congo was excellent, knowledgably and we had the absolute time of our lives, and I didn't even like fishing, but I do now. I also fell in love with Los Barriles at the same time. “

FITNESS / GYM
Sefi Held, Pilates, Ball, Fitness Instructor
“There is no category for Health or Fitness but I have had some of the best instruction at this studio in LB.”
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THE BEST OF TODOS SANTOS 2011
ARCHITECT
Sylvia St. Clair
“She created a house that was unique, beautiful and serene.”

ART GALLERY
Jill Logan Galleria
“The Jill Logan Gallery is always stunning in overall appearance and presentation. It's open air feeling, plus having her studio as part of the space is unique. The staff and Jill are always welcoming to any visitors. It is a huge positive adding to the experience of visiting Todos Santos.”

BARTENDER
Gabe Corado
“He is the man, drink on the bar by the time you sit down.”

CHEAP EATS (good food for cheap)
Compa Chava
“Great seafood served fresh by friendly owner.”

LANDSCAPER
Keenan Shoal
“Eccentric but fun designs that work”

LODGING - VACATION RENTAL
Casa Rancho
“Best value in Todos Santos. Great casual atmosphere, economical prices and beautiful rooms with a huge communal kitchen/living room and an incredible swimming pool!”

PIZZA
Napoli
“Tasty pizza, very reasonable prices.”

REAL ESTATE AGENT
Alec Quevedo
“Fun agent with a ton of knowledge and no pressure.”

RESTAURANT FOR MEXICAN
La Esquina
“Of course this place rules for the best chow...lots of organic, great wifi, and good people hang out here...$ stars for sure.”

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