That Was Then…

We lived in a water front home on the canals of north Padre Island. The island is located over the causeway from Corpus Christi, TX. It’s a beautiful place to live and retire. The house was on the Laguna Madre, the west side, and the Gulf of Mexico, the east side, was about a mile distant. The National Seashore – a massive national park dominated the north –central part of the island and provided excellent recreational opportunities. We planned on retiring there.Padre Island jpg The economy, politics and business decisions beyond my pay grade had led me to early retirement. That did not pose too great a problem. I was busy with volunteer activities, beach combing and my island fellowship gang. Anita was a hospital pharmacist working with people she enjoyed. We had family and friends, the beach, water toys; things were good.

August 2012 at Padre Island National Seashore

August 2012 at Padre Island National Seashore

Somewhere along the line, in between Anita’s job becoming less satisfying and more frustrating and my growing restlessness, we agreed upon a new option for the future. We decided that we would travel.  We would travel with no clear end game, no ultimate destination, no place to which we must ultimately return. This idea did not arrive fully developed. Anita researched it for several months – in stealth mode – before she broached the subject with me. I wrestled with the notion of possessions and how we could keep the “the really good stuff”. We both considered the option of being teachers of English as a Second Language while we traveled. But in our minds, we began to envision an alternative to our previously anticipated retirement years. We began in August 2011 and started making up lists of what needed to be done. We went through two garage sales, endless Craig’s list postings, shipping treasured items across country to new homes, etc. We finally got our stuff down to what we would need to travel. We put our finances in order, leased the house long-term (still waiting for the real estate market to recover), arranged for worldwide health insurance, addressed issues of taxes, voting, medical records, and especially, how to stay in touch with all those who are important to us.

our son, Michael, Padre Island, August, 2014

our son, Michael, Padre Island, August, 2014

Our grandson, Hayden, Padre Island National Seashore

Our grandson, Hayden, Padre Island National Seashore

We left our island home on September 11, 2012. The cars were loaded to the gills with “stuff”, but all of that was destined for our son in Colorado. We drove to Longmont, Colorado, left the vehicles with all that remained of our worldly goods and said our goodbyes to family. On September 19th we took off from the Denver International Airport for Mexico. We took with us two laptops loaded with all our photos, scanned copies of documents and other important information , two kindle e-readers with extensive libraries, two cameras, and two suitcases each. We have no set itinerary or schedule. We plan to not plan and follow opportunities and interests at our own pace. In the immortal words of Dr. Seuss, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose”.

Chichen Itza, Mexico, January, 2013

Chichen Itza, Mexico, January, 2013

By Richard, September, 2012

65 comments

  • Thanks for sharing all of this information. I’m coming over to Portugal in October to see if this will be my place to retire. Today I live in downtown Boston about 1 block away from the harbor, surrounded bars, coffeeshops and restaurants. I walk, bike, and take the public transportation and I like and active lifestyle that includes tennis, walking and bike riding. As I’m sure you know the winters in the Northeast are miserable and the cost of living is far to high.

    From my research I’ve narrowed my focus to Porto and the Largos as I think they both come close to satisfying my requirements which are:
    1. A walkable small city that does not shutter up off-season
    2. Able to get by with English while I learn the language
    3. Close to the water and would prefer to have a view of it from my apartment.
    4. Year round residents with social groups to network and make friends with common interest, Meetups.
    4. Tennis courts within a bike ride away
    5. Small one bedroom apartment as I plan to travel a lot
    6. Weather that allows an active outdoor lifestyle year round

    My concern with Porto is the language and perhaps the weather during the winter months, I’m not sure how cold it really gets and if I can play tennis or bike ride year round. Largos, I’m concerned about high season being an out of control party that would disrupt day to day life.

    I’ll continue to read through your blog and learn more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ed and thanks for your kind words as well as for taking the time to comment! It sounds like you’ve done a great deal of research and we can certainly relate to both your aversion to winter weather (having lived for many years in Montana) and the wish for a lower cost of living. You’re correct in that both Lagos and Porto have a good-sized English speaking expat community which will definitely make the transition to becoming a resident easier and while summer is high season, they both are livable cities year round. The Algarve region of Portugal is warmer and generally sunnier than the more Northern cities and you’ll find that it has a much more rural feeling compared to Porto. Porto, at approximately 250,000 is the second largest city in Portugal and is definitely more metropolitan than Lagos. That said, your plan to visit in October during the low season is the best way to determine which or either city is right for you. Feel free to ask any questions and, when you come to Lagos, let us know and maybe we can get together for coffee. Good luck and enjoy both the planning and the actual boots-on-the-ground exploration of your next possible home!

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      • I’ll be in Lagos Oct 17 – Oct 23 so if you are in town I would love to take you up on the offer to meet for a coffee so I can learn more and ask some questions. Let me know the best way to communicate to arrange meeting if your schedule allows for it, you should have my email address.

        Cheers,–Ed

        Liked by 1 person

  • Your story is very like ours, except nearly 8 years in we’re still nomadic with no fixed abode. I look forward to reading more of your stuff…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Five years ago when we set off on our nomadic travels, there were very few bloggers near our age who were traveling full-time. However, as the years go by, we’re connecting with more and more online, trading stories and finding all sorts of people who, for many of the same reasons we left, are exploring the world and loving it! We miss the full-time travel where the next adventure is always awaiting but setting up a base in a foreign country we love and having all of Europe at our feet has many perks too. Here’s hoping our paths cross someday and drop a note if you find yourself in Portugal!

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      • Hi, I just discovered your blog. I agree about the Blogger Age, I am 54 and make it a point to actively search for people who are traveling and who are not in the 20’s/30’s age range, which is difficult. I am really enjoying reading about your adventure. I am planning to retire abroad in 2028. I have traveled Europe, the UK, the Caribbean, Mexico, Canada and most recently Morocco this past April. In 2019 I will be traveling through Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. How is the cost of living in your part of Portugal? I have worked since the age of 15 and I do not plan to struggle trying to retire in the US, the world is entirely too big and I want to see as much of it as I can before I close my eyes. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful adventure with us, I look forward to reading more.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hi Sondra! Thanks for stopping by our blog and for taking the time to write a comment. Not that we don’t enjoy some of the younger bloggers, but it’s hard to relate to most of the 20-30 something age-group of backpackers, thrill-seekers, looking for an endless party, etc. Been there – done that, right? And now there are lots of excellent blogs available online with real people in our age group with similar backgrounds writing thoughtful posts about their experiences and destinations that we can dream about or plan to visit for ourselves. When you read about others who have taken the big jump – it makes it easier to imagine yourself doing it too!
          It sounds like you’ve done lots of traveling already and have a lot more planned. How awesome! So you know that many places are much more affordable to live in than the US as well as the kind of lifestyle you might be looking for. When we traveled full-time for the first 3 years, those were the questions we asked as well as the big one, “Could we see ourselves living there long term?” Portugal was the first country that got an unequivocal thumbs up as the perfect place for us from the get-go. We plan to write a blog post in the near future about what we’re spending monthly to live in Portugal but I can give you a few estimates, all in Euros and per month: rent €800 for a 2 bedroom, 2 BR modern apartment with a pool, utilities average €140 give or take, food/cleaning supplies/toiletries €400-450, Wi-Fi/cable €60. We bought a used car and spent about €75/month for gas. Obviously, there are other expenses and we don’t skimp but we’re not extravagant either and feel like the quality of life is one of the best things about Portugal.
          Good luck as you continue to travel and chart out your own plan for retirement! Make sure to drop a comment from time to time and let us know about where you end up. And, if your plans include Portugal, be sure to let us know!

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  • Yeah, you prove my belief that bloggers are better people. You live an impressive life.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I have to apologize Cindy for my very late reply as I just saw your note on this post! Loved your sentiment that “bloggers are better people” as I love being part of the blogging community, exchanging comments and developing a network of online friends. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy your photos and the graceful narrative that accompanies them. It seems we both live a charmed life!

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  • You both write so well it’s an absolute pleasure to read about all your travels. I found your blog because I was wondering about other “older” travelers since my wife and I haven’t met many others from the US. We (my wife is Canadian) actually met 35 years ago in Mexico while traveling. We live in Denver and travel about 4 months each year (since 2013) throughout the world. We plan on visiting many of the areas you’ve written about so I appreciate all your observations and pictures. Everything helps when planning new trips. My wife writes about the places we visit each year for friends. This year’s address is: http://www.bergersadventures4.blogspot.com. You might find some info there and on previous year’s trips that help you on your future adventures.
    Wishing you good health!
    Steve – traveling and learning

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for stopping by Steve, and for your kind words! We too have wondered about all those older travelers from the US who must be wandering around the world… However, we definitely meet a lot of Canadians! I enjoyed stopping by your blog too, as Eastern Europe is on our traveling itinerary for next year and you’ve written about many of the countries we’re hoping to visit. We love being introduced to new blogs and reading about other’s explorations and impressions and you’re right, everything helps when thinking about the next place to go. Here’s to new places, travel and hoping that someday our paths will cross! Anita

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  • Thank you for sharing your experiences, Anita and Richard. I love to travel and I am a perennial volunteer so what you are doing is truly inspiring for me. So far most of my travels are holidays though I’d led a team of bush regenerators to Fraser Island, a world heritage site to combat an invasion of weeds (2005) and I cooked in the Australian outback for an indigenous community (2006). However, neither of those expeditions allowed me extra time nor energy to wander. At the moment I am teaching Chinese Calligraphy as a volunteer tutor and knitting for the homeless. What you are doing is perfect and I am envious. All the best from Sydney, Australia, Mary.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Mary for your good wishes. Sounds like you, too have an adventurous spirit with your volunteer efforts in Australia which we hope to visit in the next couple of years and still sounds so exotic to us! We find it very interesting to to compare when we started our travels 4 years ago to now and to see the growing movement of over 50’s travelers out seeing the world, teaching, writing and volunteering. There was little information for older travelers in 2011 when we started researching the idea of nomadic travel and now, there are multiple sites with some great information and blogs. It’s a growing movement, Mary!

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      • I’m doing a refresher course on teaching English as a second language (of course it is my second language as well) so I’m hoping to find some volunteer work overseas too. I don’t have the best of health and low energy level but I’m sure I can make myself useful in some way:) Hope to be still here to welcome you to Australia. Keep in touch!

        Liked by 1 person

  • Looking forward to following your adventures! You have inspired us to do more international traveling.

    Liked by 1 person

    • How fun to be an inspiration! 🙂 One (just one?) thing that we like so much about traveling is that it’s a hobby that can be modified to fit any budget, lifestyle and interest. We’ve discovered over the years that our interests change and our passions shift and travel perfectly adapts to whatever road we take. And maybe, one of these days and countries, our paths will cross, LuAnn! Anita

      Liked by 1 person

      • We do agree with your thoughts on travel. Looking back over the years our interests and passions have widely changed. Here’s to meeting up with you someday!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Maria Lunderius

        With your permission, Anita and Richard, I would like to add something for the benefit of people who hesitate, not sure how changing circumstances might affect travel. I am not a blogger (any more – I blogged for a couple of years about my working retirement in Puerto Rico (retirement-merry-go-round), to help others who thought of retiring there, as I could not find pertinent information myself and thought other my find such an information useful), so I can’t do it on my blog, thus: here goes.

        I have traveled internationally a lot all my life, starting from escaping from a then communist country of my birth, Poland, when my doctoral dissertation was censored and I was offered to either rewrite it to make it more, let’s say, marxist-leninist, or wash windows in my research institute. Later travels were mostly work assignments, from a few weeks, when my spouse lived (he died young – brain tumor) and I had a school age child, to months and a few years at a time, later. It was an easy way to travel, no matter how exotic the places.

        Retirement travel is a different story: YOU decide where you want to go and YOU (not the corporate relo) do all the work. Nobody but yourself will bail you out. Especially, if you, like me, travel not as a part of a couple, but by yourself. In my case additionally “burdened” by two cats. (Poor domestic creatures, who were dragged, sometimes kicking and meowing, through half of the world.)

        You need to be able to adjust your travel if/as your health worsens/ if it does. For the last 30 years I have been a diabetic, more than half of it insulin dependent and it always influenced my travel choices (more than my cats did): availability of reputable and affordable healthcare, availability of diabetes medication, like Lantus, which for decades had no replacement (darn drug companies and their profit above others motive).

        A few years ago my heart started protesting (I had a heart attack, fortunately mild), which complicated travel plans and travel additionally: not being able to carry heavy items, like luggage, cats in their airline approved containers, etc.

        Then I had to stop driving, and now, in my 70s arthritis makes me sometimes practically immobile, sometimes just a little.

        Does all of it stop me? No, I just have to plan harder, pay more for services and be even more flexible. I write, when I am immobile (right now I have got a contract from a publisher ), enjoying a spectacular view, employing a maid, who cleans, shops and does routine errands for me. At least once a week I take a taxi to town, to meet people, have coffee or a drink at various cafees or a meal at one of the restaurants. Life is still good, travel still doable – and enjoyable – even though I do mourn my lost mobility and independence and plan do buy an electric mobility scooter and move to a new apartment, elsewhere, of course ;-), as here there is no place to par it or load it.

        My motto is still: life without travel, without adventure, is not worth living (vivere non est necesse, navigare necesse est!) If there is a will, there is a way. So, have happy travels all of you who crave it. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • You’ve covered so many excellent points, Maria about travel, especially for all of us older travelers! Part of the big incentive to retire early and travel full-time was the realization that we couldn’t bank on reaching the “right” age to travel, the conventional age of retirement, and that NOW was the time to go. And, like you, as we age or as illness occurs, we’ll have to find ways to adapt to mobility challenges and other health issues because we’re also convinced that there are as many different approaches to traveling as there are travelers. And we love your motto! Here’s to both health and anticipating future travels!

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  • Maria Lunderius

    Hi, former neighbors. I, too, have lived n South Padre Island, though for only about two years (2004-2006), thinking of moving to Mexico. I have worked ( a working retirement) through Caribbean and Central America and now live in Europe. On the Iberic peninsula, but in Spain. I have “met” you through one of your comments on Rewired and retired blog and decided to visit your blog. Glad I did.

    Since I am legally both European and American it is easier (and cheaper) for me to live in Europe. Imagine a heart attack with one week in two hospitals, etc. etc. with a total bill of less than $200 (since it is the maximum amount a citizen or resident in Sweden can pay out of pocket for health care within a YEAR! US and other parts of the world is a different story, however, for a diabetic dependent on Lantus insulin.

    I am a widow living a nomad lifestyle – with two cats! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Maria and thanks for stopping by. Your comment shows that the world can be smaller for those who travel and reside as expats in other countries. In fact it looks like our paths have crossed nearby in many of the same places! And here we are now, almost neighbors, on the Iberian Peninsula in Portugal :). Your remarks about health care in Europe are interesting and we’ve been very pleased with the level of health care as well as the cost of services that we’ve received as residents of Portugal. And you’re right, it’s much cheaper for us to live in Europe (Portugal anyway) than in the US and far more interesting as we get to exercise our yen for travel. Maybe someday our paths will intersect and we’ll meet!

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      • You are welcome to visit me in Costa Blanca. I have a guest room – hope you are not allergic to cats. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks for the invite, Maria and we love cats. We’ve been lucky enough to housesit several times during our travels and pampering cats has been one of our favorite things! I looked up the Costa Brava Region and it looks like you’ve picked a lovely part of Spain. Coincidentally, we are nearby in Mojacar this week visiting friends but we’re leaving tomorrow to return to Portugal. When we’re in your neighborhood next we’ll be sure to drop a note. It’s always fun to meet new people and we already have several topics of conversation to break the ice!

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  • Sounds like my plan for the future but have about 10 years of work left. Can’t talk my partner into leaving any sooner. When did you decide to start blogging and how did you first network with other bloggers. I’m over 50, just started a travel blog about six months ago, and am feeling so behind everyone else. Working full time makes it extra hard to find the time to blog as well as post on all other forms of social media but travel and photography is my true passion so I’m plugging along. Thanks again for the inspiration and great tips!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for stopping by Carol and keep planning! We read a lot of travel blogs before we started traveling and wish that we’d started writing our blog earlier to tell about our preparations to totally transform our lifestyles as well as share the first six months we spent in Mexico adjusting to full-time retirement, culture shock and life as nomads. But, since travel and photography are your passions jumping in and writing about them is a great way to record your thoughts and adventures. And you’re right about the “plugging along” because sometimes writing is fun and sometimes it’s a lot of hard work! We started out writing posts once a week and then changed to a post every two weeks and really try to stick to a specific day to publish – otherwise we’d procrastinate and nothing would get done! As for networking with other bloggers – it’s a slow process but worth the time and effort to become a part of the community. We still read a lot of travel blogs and, over the years have made several online “friends” with other bloggers as we comment back and forth on various posts. And there’s nothing like travel to inspire some great stories! Anita

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  • Charlotte Lynch

    Must be something about September 19th! That’s when I moved to Hawaii and had never even been there! Love reading about all your adventures!

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are many places that we’ve been tempted to move to without visiting first. Having been to Hawaii a few times I can certainly understand why you followed through on a move there – it certainly fits our definition of paradise! So glad you’re enjoying reading about our travels. Besides the obvious fun of traveling to learn and for the adventure, we’ve kept all the places we’ve visited in the back of our minds as places to come back to and call home. And knowing that there are so many places in the world that we would enjoy living has made the choice difficult indeed!

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  • gorgeous, inspirational stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  • That is an inspirational about you page. I am very envious. We have to stay at home at the moment because we both have elderly parents living independently who need some support. We do manage to travel for about 4 months of the year, but I in particular would like to try what you are doing. Love the blog. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for your very kind words and it’s great that you have the ability to travel 4 months a year while still being able to be there for your parents. I have no doubt that, at some point the timing will be right, the planets will align and you’ll be able to pursue the kind of travel that you envision. Luckily, as we’ve found out and you know too, travel can take you on many paths and there are a lot of ways to get there! Anita

      Liked by 1 person

  • Hi Anita, You left a comment on my JustaBackpack blog and so I clicked over to take a peak. Well, I’ve worked my way through multiple posts and have just spent the better part of an hour totally enthralled by your adventures and your experiences. I’m dreaming and planning but still hesitant to pull the trigger and you guys are off seeing the world! You are truly inspiring and I’ll be back to read more and learn more. Thanks.

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    • It’s a huge decision to take the plunge, isn’t it, and leave everything behind? Luckily, once we decided to do this we went full steam ahead and, over the months that we prepared finally ended up adopting an “all or nothing” approach. It looks like you’re doing a lot of fun and adventurous travel already so, at some point, the moment may feel right to “pull the trigger”. We’re glad that our posts are inspiring you and part of the reason we’re travelling is because we read a lot of blogs that inspired us in turn. I’m enjoying your blog as well and will follow along to see what developes!

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  • Hey Anita and Richard,

    Thanks so much for the recent blog follow. It has led me to your blog, which I am now following.

    Wow – how awesome that you two are traveling like this. I have fantasies of doing just that, but right now I am caring for my elderly mother, so leaving is not an option. It’s fun to imagine though.

    I look forward to living this dream vicariously through your blog.

    Happy blogging! 🙂

    Nancy

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  • Interesting life you have chosen and I look forward to reading more about it. Thanks for stopping by my blog and “liking” one of my posts.

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  • Hi Anita and Richard, Thanks so much for your blog. Well done on your full-time travels… it is just so awesome to be living a life on the road and going where the wind takes you. My partner Jodie and I are full-time house sitters and just love it. I would love to invite you to join our growing Facebook group of house sitters and home owners called ‘House Sitting World’. There are many well know full-time travel bloggers in our group already who also house sit from time to time. It would be a pleasure for you to join us and share your insights and travels with us all. We also use it as a place for house sitters to exchange referral house sits. Hope to see you there

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    • Hi Nat and Jodie. We’re so glad you’re enjoying our blog. We wanted to thank you also for the invitation to join your group, House Sitting World. We’ve had a great time house sitting so far and will really appreciate sharing information with your group. I just send in a request and can’t wait to check it out! Anita

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  • Wow I wish you both all the very best. Enjoy and be safe 🙂

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  • Hi,

    I just want to know how to catch with Omar in La Cieba ?

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  • I had the great privilege to work with Anita in CC and became quick friends with her. I don’t miss my days of working at that hospital but I do miss Anita! I follow her on FB but never realized the blog. And I am an avid blog reader. Thank you for letting us in on your awesome journey. Be safe and cant wait till your next post.

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    • T-So glad you’re enjoying the blog and thanks for the kind words. I’m a huge blog reader, too, and (watch out!)this is how our odyssey began. It seemed like the more I read on travel and expat blogs the more I realized that this could be a viable option for us! We are having an awesome time!

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  • Anita and Richard, Absolutely fantastic story! I had a smile on my face the entire time I was reading because it all rings so true. I applaud your intrepid spirits and can’t wait to read more. Wishing you all the best, Terri

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    • Terri,
      I also had a smile on my face as I read your blog because so many of your sentiments mirror our own. We expected that travel would expose us to new places and experiences but we hadn’t anticipated meeting, talking to and writing so many interesting and amazing people! Thanks for your encouraging comments, Anita & Richard

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  • What a great story! And fantastic for your relationship! We’ll definitely be following along….

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    • Thanks for following us and your enthusiastic comment. In response, after years of going in separate directions we’re going along the same road again (kind of like when we were first married and constantly together!) Travel forces you to redefine both yourselves and your relationship to others. It’s an interesting, occasionally challenging and fun journey! Anita and Richard

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      • So very true. It’s done wonders for us! People often ask us how the first year of marriage is and, in our case, it’s the coolest experience ever! Traveling, including all of its frustrations and challenges, brings out who we are and how we react to the world together. It’s pretty neat.

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  • Great Blog. Thanks for sharing. I’m enjoying Sedona. See down the road. M

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