Travel

Digital Nomad Guide to Living in Cozumel

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Cozumel, Mexico, is one of those places that truly lives at “island speed.” What I loved most about living in Cozumel as a digital nomad was the slow pace of life, the gorgeous scenery, and the fantastic culture.

Being a digital nomad in Cozumel is great because your office can be anywhere – a rooftop bar, a cute cafe, a quiet outdoor space – just pick one! And aside from your work life being fun and easy, so is actual life – there are endless things to do in your downtime. Below, is a helpful digital nomad’s guide to living in Cozumel.

About Living in Cozumel

Cozumel

Cozumel is a stunning island nestled in the Caribbean Sea, just off the eastern coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, right outside Playa del Carmen and Cancun. Known for its crystal-clear waters and diverse marine life, it’s a top destination for scuba diving and snorkeling enthusiasts. It’s also home to Mayan ruins, a rich culture, and some seriously delicious food.

For digital nomads, Cozumel offers the perfect combination of relaxation and connectivity. The island has a growing number of cafes, coffee shops, and restaurants with reliable WiFi, making it easy to work from pretty much anywhere that piques your interest. Plus, the cost of living is relatively low compared to other beach destinations – especially for an island.

What makes Cozumel particularly appealing to me is its combination of laid-back lifestyle and breathtaking natural beauty. After a day’s work, you can get a tan at the beach, join a sunset yoga class, or enjoy fresh seafood at a beachfront restaurant. The island’s welcoming locals and friendly expat community also make it easy to meet new friends and network.

Digital Nomad in Cozumel: Personal Experience

digital nomad, beach bar

I happened to be living in Playa del Carmen for around four months before ever making my way over to the island, which is silly because it’s such a quick ferry ride away. Once I finally made the short journey, I was kicking myself for not traveling there earlier.

The ferry ride takes around an hour and leaves from the main pier in Playa del Carmen. The ride itself is beautiful, and when you step onto the boat ramp, you’re immediately taken away by how gorgeous, bright, and welcoming Cozumel’s waterfront is. Immediately, I knew it would be easy to stay there.

The island is quite small, but the downtown area is effortlessly walkable and offers dozens of cafes, coffee shops, rooftop bars, and restaurants to turn into your office. I saw plenty of online workers posting up with a beer or an iced latte with memorable ocean or downtown views.

What I loved most about spending a few weeks in Cozumel was that it never felt dull despite the island’s small size. Everyone was so friendly; I met tons of other digital nomads and enjoyed a beautiful slice of nature every single day. How could you not love that?

Is Living in Cozumel Safe?

Mexico taxi

Living in Cozumel is generally considered safer than many other tourist destinations in Mexico, with lower crime rates, especially when it comes to violent crimes. Most crimes that occur are typically non-violent and more opportunistic, like petty theft or pickpocketing, especially in crowded areas or tourist hotspots.

Scams can be an issue, which, of course, is the case in most tourist destinations. Common scams include taxi drivers overcharging, especially from the airport or around cruise ship docks, and vendors selling counterfeit goods. Make sure you agree on a fare before getting in a taxi, and if that purse price seems too good to be true? It probably is.

Stick to well-lit, populated streets, and if you can avoid it, don’t walk around at night. While the main tourist areas are well-patrolled and generally safe, venturing off the beaten path – especially alone or at night – can be less safe, leaving you vulnerable to theft.

Best Areas to Live in Cozumel

Cozumel port

Since Cozumel is so small, about 30 miles long and 10 miles wide, it doesn’t offer much in terms of neighborhood diversity. The most populated side of the island is the west side, which is closest to the ports and airport. Smaller neighborhoods and stand-alone homes are found on the east side; however, it’s mostly nature preserves and beaches.

Here are the areas I found to be the best and most digital-nomad-friendly when living in Cozumel.

1. Centro (Downtown Cozumel)

Cozmuel square

Centro is the bustling area of Cozumel and offers plenty of spots for digital nomads. Punta Langosta Co-Working is a popular working space, providing high-speed internet, comfortable working areas, and a community feel. For coffee lovers, El Coffee Cozumel is a charming cafe with strong WiFi, which was one of my favorite “offices.” If you like to have lunch while you work, La Cocay offers a cozy atmosphere and delicious Mediterranean cuisine.

This area is perfect if you want to be in the heart of it all. The local square, Plaza Central, is amazing for people-watching and taking in the local culture after a day of work. For a quick break, you can always take a stroll along the waterfront promenade, and within minutes, you’ll be away from the chaotic energy.

Accommodation in downtown ranges from budget hostels to mid-range hotels, all within walking distance of practically everything. Centro offers a blend of local culture, convenience, and a lively expat community, making it the most popular area for digital nomads in Cozumel.

2. San Miguel Beachfront

cocktail on beach

The San Miguel Beachfront is a bit more serene and is great for digital nomads who like things a little more quiet. With spots like Beachouse Cozumel offering a quiet place to work with ocean views and a relaxed vibe, it’s hard not to fall in love with this neighborhood. The Thirsty Cougar is also a great working spot with a more upbeat setting. They have good WiFi and lots of tasty snacks and drinks, perfect for casual work sessions.

This area is perfect for travelers like myself, who prefer scenic views and easy beach access. On your days off or even on a break, you can always take a dip in the ocean and go for a quick snorkel or just pick a lounge chair and soak up some sun.

The accommodation options here definitely cater to a more relaxed lifestyle, with many beachfront hotels and rental apartments providing special rates for longer stays. What I loved about this neighborhood was it provided the perfect work-life balance that I was looking for.

3. Corpus Christi

seafood platter

If you’re really looking for calm and quiet… head to Corpus Christi. This neighborhood provides a more authentic living experience in Cozumel. You’ll find residential streets, quiet parks, and local families in this area.

For working, Mundaca Coffee is a local favorite. They have delicious coffee, pastries, and strong WiFi. When it’s time to grab a bite, Alberto’s Beach Bar Restaurant serves fresh seafood and local dishes right on the water.

Housing in Corpus Christi can range from private villas to comfortable and simple apartments. If you book long-term, you can generally work out a reasonable price. This neighborhood is best for those seeking a quieter, more residential area away from the main tourist areas.

4. Northern Hotel Zone

beach club mexico

A bit more upscale yet also relaxing is the Northern Hotel Zone. This area is ideal for digital nomads seeking a more luxurious way of life, with beach clubs and private resorts that cater to a higher-end lifestyle.

While there aren’t any coworking spaces around, many hotels offer business centers and lounges that are set up for working, including Hotel B Cozumel. For a tried-and-true classic, head to Starbucks in the nearby shopping area for reliable WiFi and your favorite coffee fix.

For fun, activities in the Northern Hotel Zone include spa services, yoga classes, and water sports so you can stay both active and relaxed! This neighborhood is great for digital nomads looking for tranquility, comfort, and a dose of luxury.

5. South Coast Highway (Carretera Costera Sur)

iced coffee

I loved the South Coast Highway because it’s more secluded, making it a great area for focused work sessions. If you love nature, you’ll enjoy being in this neighborhood because there’s easy access to beautiful beaches and outdoor activities like biking and snorkeling. The tranquility here is seriously unmatched.

Since there isn’t technically a “coworking space” in the area, Coz Coffee Roasting Company offers a cute environment for working with yummy coffee and baked goods. For dining while working, Mezcalitos is a great spot for a relaxed beachfront setting and traditional Mexican food.

Accommodations along the South Coast Highway are mostly beachfront condos and eco-lodges. Any spot you choose will ooze peace and privacy. You’ll definitely want to have some sort of transportation while living in this area, but the lifestyle is totally worth it, in my opinion.

How to Find Accommodation in Cozumel

accommodation cozmuel

Since Cozumel is such a small island, it might be confusing when it comes to finding the best accommodations for your particular wants, needs, and lifestyle. These are the best ways, I’ve found, to look for accommodations in Cozumel.

1. Online Rental Platforms (Airbnb or Booking.com). Using online rental platforms like Airbnb or Booking.com is one of the most popular ways to find accommodations in Cozumel. The site offers a wide range of options, from private rooms to entire homes, allowing you to choose something that fits your budget and style. They also provide user reviews, which can help you decide on a safe and comfortable place to stay.

2. Local Real Estate Agencies. Working with a local real estate agency in Cozumel can give you a more personalized service and access to listings that might not be available online. Agents understand the local market and can help you find a place that meets your specific needs, whether you’re looking for a short-term rental or something more permanent. Another perk is that they can help with negotiating leases and understanding local rental laws and regulations.

3. Social Media Groups and Forums (Facebook groups, Expat forums). It’s always a great idea to join local Cozumel social media groups or expat forums to find accommodations. Members frequently post rental listings or can offer advice and recommendations based on their own experiences. You can also get a sense of the community and help you make connections before you arrive.

4. Word of Mouth. Sometimes, the best way to find a place to stay in Cozumel is to simply talk to people. If you have friends, family, or acquaintances who’ve been to Cozumel, ask them for recommendations. Or, do what I did, and go there for a quick vacation before committing and talk to as many locals and digital nomads as possible.

Cost of Living in Cozumel

Mexican Peso

There’s no denying that one of the biggest advantages of living in Cozumel is the affordability. The cost of living in Cozumel is slightly higher than on the mainland but still very reasonable compared to Western countries and many tourist destinations.

Below, are the costs and prices of the things you’ll most commonly need to spend money on.

Restaurants and Groceries

grocery store

In Cozumel, the cost of groceries can vary based on where you shop, but regular markets and grocery stores are super affordable.

For example, a liter of milk typically costs around 20 to 25 MXN ($1.06-$1.33 USD), a 500g bag of local coffee might set you back about 90 to 120 MXN ($4.77-$6.30 USD), depending on the brand and quality, bread will cost around 30 to 50 MXN ($1.59-$2.65 USD) for a decent-sized loaf, and a dozen eggs usually cost around 25 to 35 MXN ($1.33-$1.86 USD).

When it comes to eating out in Cozumel, there’s a range for every budget. You can grab a really delicious meal at a budget-friendly restaurant for about 100 to 150 MXN ($5.30-$7.95 USD). This could be a hearty plate of tacos or some fresh seafood that was caught that day.

On the other hand, if you’re feeling fancy and decide to dine at a high-end restaurant, be prepared to pay significantly more. A meal at one of these places could cost anywhere from 300 to 600 MXN ($16-$32 USD) or even higher, but with that price tag, you can expect a top-notch dining experience.

Accommodation Costs

accommodation

If you’re on a budget, you can find hostels and budget hotels offering rooms from $15.90 to $31.80 USD per night. Expect straightforward, no-frills options ideal for backpackers or solo travelers.

If you rent an apartment or a small house, you can expect to pay around $265 to $636 USD per month, depending on location and amenities. Utility costs for these types of places, including water, electricity, and internet, can range from $53 to $132.50 USD per month.

Mid-range hotels and Airbnb rentals typically cost between $42.40 to $106 USD per night for those looking for more comfort without breaking the bank. Monthly rentals in this range can cost between $636 to $1,060 USD, but you can expect more space and amenities like kitchens and private bathrooms. Utilities for these places typically range from $79.50 to $159 USD and are highly dependent on A/C use.

If you want fancy, high-end resorts and villas can start from $159 USD per night and increase in price from there. Monthly rates for luxury villas or upscale apartments can cost well over $1,590 USD. The utility costs in these high-end accommodations are often included in the rent, however.

Transportation Costs in Cozumel

bike, transport mexico

Getting around in Cozumel doesn’t have to be expensive. Taxis are found everywhere, especially around the ferry terminal, downtown, and hotel areas. They don’t have meters, so it’s absolutely crucial to agree on the fare before you hop in. Short rides within downtown areas usually cost around $2.65 to $5.30 USD, but prices can increase if you’re heading to more remote beach areas or during late-night hours.

If you want to explore at your own pace, renting scooters or bikes is a popular choice. Scooter rentals can cost about $15.90 to $31.80 USD per day. Bicycles are a cheaper and more environmentally friendly option, with daily rentals typically ranging from $5.30 to $10.60 USD. Just remember to stay aware of the traffic laws and always wear a helmet!

Public transportation doesn’t exactly exist in Cozumel, but there are “colectivos” or shared vans, which are the local’s preferred choice of transportation. They’re super affordable, with rides typically costing between $1.06 to $2.12 USD. The downfall is that their routes can be limited, so ask locally for the latest schedule and stops.

Unfortunately, Uber and Lyft are yet to make their way to Cozumel, so taxis, scooters, or your own two feet are your best bets for getting around.

SIM Cards and Data

sim card connection

If you’re planning on living in Cozumel for an extended period of time, grabbing a local SIM card is a smart move. Popular options include Telcel, AT&T México, and Movistar, which can be found at various stores and kiosks around the island, especially near tourist areas or in the downtown part of San Miguel.

Prices for a SIM card start around $5.30 to $10.60 USD, but actual data and call packages vary; think in the ballpark of $10.60 to $26.50 USD for a decent amount of data and some local calling minutes.

You’ll usually need to show your passport as part of the registration process. It’s a standard procedure, so make sure to have your passport handy. As for eSIMs, they’re starting to pop up as an option for travelers, especially from providers like Telcel and AT&T México.

Staying connected in Cozumel is pretty easy and affordable, whether you opt for a traditional SIM or go the eSIM route. Just make sure to check the latest data plans and offers, and you’ll be all set to explore the island while staying in touch.

Money Saving Tips for Living in Cozumel

mexican street food

Who doesn’t like to save money? Here are some simple ways to save money while living in Cozumel.

  1. Avoid Peak Season: Avoid Cozumel during peak tourist times, especially from December to April. Prices for accommodations, tours, and activities can skyrocket. Visiting during the off-season can save you a ton of money, and you’ll still catch plenty of sunny days.
  2. Use Local Transportation: Skip the taxis and rent a bike or scooter to explore the island, or hop on the local colectivos for longer distances. It’s so much cheaper and gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace. Plus, it’s a great way to get a feel for local life.
  3. Shop and Eat Locally: Instead of dining out at tourist traps, eat where the locals eat. Street food in Cozumel is not only delicious but also super affordable. Also, visit local markets for groceries and souvenirs instead of the high-priced stores in tourist areas.
  4. Public Beaches are Your Friend: Cozumel has gorgeous public beaches that are free to access. Stay away from the private beach clubs where you’ll be charged an entrance fee, and enjoy those same beautiful waters and sands without the cost.
  5. Snorkel on Your Own: Instead of booking expensive snorkeling tours, bring your own gear or rent it from a local shop and head to one of the many accessible reefs from shore. Places like Dzul Ha or Chankanaab Beach offer great snorkeling right off the beach.
  6. Look for Combo Deals or Passes: If you plan to visit multiple attractions, look for combination tickets or passes that offer discounts for multiple entries. Also, keep an eye out for special promotions or discount days at local museums and parks.

Coworking Spaces in Cozumel and WiFi Speed

cafe coffee laptop remote work

The WiFi situation has been improving steadily in Cozmuel, making life easier for digital nomads. You can expect average internet speeds of around 10-20 Mbps, which is generally satisfactory for most online work; however, speeds can drop during peak times or in more remote areas, so you may have to practice your patience.

It’s usually reliable in tourist areas and accommodations, but it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan, like a local SIM card with data.

There aren’t any “official” coworking spaces in Cozumel yet. Luckily, there are some great cafes in Cozumel that have ample space for a productive workday. These spots not only provide solid and dependable WiFi but also offer opportunities for networking and community events. These are my favorite spots.

1. Casa Cuzamil

Casa Cuzamil is a charming coffee shop in the heart of Cozumel, offering reliable WiFi and a quiet atmosphere for digital nomads looking for a productive day. Its quaint decor and comfortable seating make it an awesome spot to settle down with your laptop and dive into work. Their coffee selection is excellent, with options ranging from traditional Mexican coffee to more international blends, all made from high-quality beans.

Besides great coffee, Casa Cuzamil also offers a variety of local snacks and light meals to help you stay fueled throughout the day. The shop has both indoor and outdoor seating, and the staff is super friendly and attentive, making it a favorite among both locals and expats.

2. Zermatt Bakery

baked goods

Zermatt Bakery isn’t only a place to grab a quick coffee; it’s also a great spot to get some work done. This European-style bakery offers free WiFi and a selection of seating options, from cozy indoor tables to breezy outdoor spots. The bakery specializes in a variety of bread, pastries, and sweets, all of which are delicious.

The atmosphere at Zermatt Bakery is relaxed and cozy, great for those mornings when you need to ease into your work. In addition to their yummy baked goods, they serve a range of coffees, teas, and other beverages. It’s a great spot for those who enjoy starting their day early, as the bakery opens with the sunrise – the perfect peaceful setting for productivity.

3. Coz Coffee Roasting Company

Coz Coffee Roasting Company is unique because they roast their own coffee right on the premises; it’s no surprise that every cup is phenomenal. The WiFi here is as robust as their coffee, and they cater to the needs of digital nomads who need a reliable connection The industrial-chic decor is clean, fresh, and inviting.

The cafe serves a variety of coffee styles, from classic drip to more elaborate espresso-based drinks, along with a selection of teas and smoothies. For those looking to stay a while, there are plenty of comfortable seating options and a variety of light meals and snacks.

Other Cafes to Work From in Cozumel

cafe laptop

Sometimes, you just want to work in a really casual and relaxed environment, and these cafes are perfect for that. I love opening my laptop at a cafe, sipping on a good cup of coffee, and watching people come and go. These were my favorite spots to do that in Cozumel.

  1. El Coffee Cozumel: This cafe is one of my favorites because of its reliable WiFi and cozy vibe. They offer a comfortable setting with both indoor and outdoor seating, where I would find myself for a few hours. The WiFi is free and generally strong and consistent. As for the menu, their iced lattes and freshly baked pastries are fantastic and, their breakfast burritos are insane.
  2. K’ooben Laab: This quaint little spot is not only known for its fresh, organic menu but also for being a great place for nomads to work. K’ooben Laab has a calm, inviting atmosphere with plenty of natural light and comfortable seating. The WiFi here is reliable, and there are lots of power outlets to keep your laptop charged.

    Menu favorites include artisanal breads, homemade jams, and their signature salads. For a healthier workday meal or just a good cup of coffee in a chill environment, this is the place.

  3. The Thirsty Cougar: A bit more on the lively side, The Thirsty Cougar is a cool spot if you’re looking to blend work with a bit more socializing. The WiFi is solid, making it possible to work within a more upbeat environment.

    Another upside is that it’s right on the water, making it a perfect spot for inspiration or a midday break. Popular menu items include fish tacos and margaritas, and overall, it’s a great place to mix a little pleasure with your productivity.

Activities and Things To Do in Cozumel

snorkling coral reef

Hands down, the best thing about living in Cozumel is spending your downtime surrounded by its natural beauty and rich culture. After a long day staring at a screen, you definitely want to check out these 5 must-do things on the island.

1. Snorkeling at Palancar Reef

Cozumel is world-renowned for its stunning coral reefs, and Palancar Reef is a must-visit for anyone who loves the ocean. Grab your snorkel gear and dive into the clear, turquoise waters to explore the vibrant underwater world. It’s not just a break from your laptop; it’s a truly immersive experience.

This activity is perfect for digital nomads looking to really unwind and disconnect. After a week of work, floating above colorful coral and exotic fish is the ultimate stress reliever. Book your tour here.

2. Exploring San Gervasio Ruins

San Gervasio Ruins cozmuel

Take a step back in time and visit the ancient San Gervasio Mayan ruins. Located in the heart of Cozumel, this archaic site offers a glimpse into the island’s rich history and culture. It’s a peaceful place and a great way to get away from your stresses.

Walking through these ruins, you’ll not only get a bit of exercise but also fuel your creativity and inspiration. It’s a great way to spend a morning or afternoon learning about the Mayan civilization and maybe learning something new. Book your tour of the ruins here.

3. Dining at El Moro

For a taste of authentic Cozumel, grab dinner at El Moro, a hidden gem known for its traditional Mexican cuisine. This family-owned restaurant has a cozy, laid-back vibe, perfect for a relaxing meal after a long day of work. The menu boasts a variety of delicious dishes, from seafood to local specialties, all made with super fresh, local ingredients.

Or, if you want a true taste of what Cozumel has to offer, you can always book a food tour that lets you explore numerous spots in one day.

4. Sunset at Punta Sur Eco Beach Park

sunset mexico

A favorite way to end my work day is by catching a breathtaking sunset at Punta Sur Eco Beach Park, the largest ecological reserve in Cozumel. The park offers stunning beaches, lagoons, and lots of wildlife. It’s a tranquil spot to reflect, meditate, or simply enjoy the beauty of nature.

End your day by watching the sunset from the top of the lighthouse, giving panoramic views of the island and the sea. If you’d like a guided tour of the gorgeous park, you can book one here.

5. Coworking at The Money Bar Beach Club

Combine work and play at The Money Bar Beach Club, where you can enjoy great WiFi and an unbeatable ocean view. This beach club offers a chic and trendy setting for digital nomads, with plenty of space to work, delicious food and drinks, and the ability to take a swim or snorkel during your breaks.

The atmosphere is relaxed but energizing, which is awesome for getting those creative juices flowing. Plus, networking with fellow nomads and travelers is crazy easy.

Weather in Cozumel

mexico weather

Cozumel is known for its tropical climate, which means it’s warm and sunny most of the year. Average temperatures range from 70°F to 90°F, so you can expect plenty of beach days. But, of course, it’s not all sunshine; there’s also a rainy season from May to October, where short, heavy downpours are common in the afternoons. Don’t worry, though; they usually pass quickly.

The best time to visit Cozumel is from November to April. This is the dry season, where there’s less rain and more tolerable temperatures, typically in the mid-70s to mid-80s. It’s ideal beach weather. Plus, the ocean is super clear during this time, making it outstanding for snorkeling and scuba diving.

If you’re looking to save some cash and don’t mind a bit of rain, visiting during the off-peak season (May to October) can be a good option. Just be aware that this is also hurricane season, particularly from September through October, so keep an eye on the weather reports.

Pros and Cons of Living in Cozumel

mexican culture

As with anywhere in the world, there are both pros and cons of living in living in Cozumel. Here are some things to consider before making the move:

Pros of Living in Cozumel

  • It’s simply gorgeous. Cozumel’s clear turquoise waters and lush terrains provide a gorgeous backdrop for inspiration and relaxation, making every workday feel like a mini-vacation.
  • It won’t break the bank. Compared to many other beach destinations, Cozumel offers an affordable lifestyle, which lets digital nomads enjoy a high quality of life without breaking the bank.
  • Like-minded people. Cozumel is home to tons of expats and digital nomads, making it easy to connect, network, and make lifelong friends. 
  • Reliable internet. Despite its laid-back island vibe, Cozumel has good internet connectivity in most areas, and there are awesome places to work all over the place.
  • Great food and rich culture. The Mexican culture is vibrant and alive on the island of Cozumel. Indulge in local cuisine, shop at local markets, and learn about the history.

Cons of Living in Cozumel

  • Limited shopping options. Cozumel might fall short if you’re into big-brand shopping or high-end boutiques, as it has fewer retail options than larger cities.
  • Island fever is real. Living on an island can feel isolating after a while, but luckily, the ferry to the mainland is just a short ride away.
  • Heat and humidity can be intense. If you’re visiting during the summer months, expect intense heat and lots of humidity. Stay hydrated because you will sweat. A lot.
  • Occasional outages. While internet access is generally reliable, there can be occasional outages or slow-downs, which could be an issue for work.
  • Language barrier. Many of the locals speak a little bit of English, especially in the tourist areas; however, you might find communication a bit tough in the more local areas.

Digital Nomad Visa for Living in Cozumel

USA passport

Cozumel itself doesn’t have a specific “digital nomad visa” since visa policies are determined by the Mexican government and apply to the entire country, not just the island. Mexico does offer a tourist visa that many digital nomads use when staying in the country, including Cozumel.

For Americans, Canadians, and British citizens, the visa process is pretty easy. Upon arrival, you typically receive a 180-day (approximately six months) tourist visa, known as a FMM (Forma Migratoria Múltiple). This is great for digital nomads looking to spend an extended period in Cozumel without the commitment of a long-term visa.

You’ll just need to make sure of a couple of things – your passport must be valid for the intended period of stay, and you might need to show proof of return or onward travel. There’s no need to apply for this tourist visa ahead of time if you’re from one of these countries; you just fill out the form on the plane or when you arrive.

In Conclusion

Cozumel is a small but mighty island, and if you’re a digital nomad looking for a new spot to call “home” for a while – this should be it. It’s island life at its finest, with the simple necessities of living that digital nomad life.

When living in Cozumel, expect sunny workdays by the beach with downtime on soft sand and in turquoise waters. It’s the perfect place for fueling your creativity and living life to its fullest.

 

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