The Peru Chronicles: First (and last) Stop – LIMA

Our flights were round trip from Fort Lauderdale to Lima. Thus, our time in South America officially started and ended in Lima. Lima is the capital of Peru and a huge city with a population around 9 million (potentially more populated than NYC, depending on city proper vs metro area as defined and measured). So while Lima is indeed very South American, it is not the small-town South American countryside that probably pops into many minds when thinking of Peru or South America. [Note: For some great deals for flights, I always like to check Kayak – they have an option called “Explore” and I highly recommend playing around with that. SkyScanner may also be a helpful site. Do be aware that these don’t catch all airlines, including some discount airlines like Southwest.]

The city is divided into many many barrios, or neighborhoods. A few of the most popular barrios to visit in Lima are the Centro Historico, Miraflores, and Barranco. [Note: The airport itself is in “Callao,” which is actually a dangerous area of the city, so be sure to get a trusted taxi.]  We were very lucky that Marita and Ruy – our fantastic hosts – had a very cool departamento (apartment) right in the heart of Barranco. Just across the street were several restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. And just a block away was a lovely parque with some greenery, benches, a neat church, and a biblioteca (library) for Em.

the library is the pink building in the background

the library is the pink building in the background


So our first night, Marita had a taxi ready to pick us up and get us to her departamento. It was a Saturday night and it also happened to be the night that she was celebrating her cumpleanos with an asado with several of her friends. The apartment was perfect for this as it had a rooftop terrace with a parilla (grill), and we celebrated with a symphony of meats – pork, pork belly, chicken, steak, sausage, morcilla (blood sausage), and duck. In Peru, and South America in general, the nights start much later and last much longer. So when we arrived from the airport close to 11pm, we were the first people to arrive and they had not started any of the food. People began showing up shortly after us, the chelas (beers) began to flow, and the food got started…and the festivities lasted until 6 in the morning. Truth be told, we only made it until 3:30 – but I was actually very proud of Honey, especially after a long travel day.

Marita, the birthday girl!

Marita, the birthday girl!

Everyone that we met and hung out with was incredibly nice. And most were pretty darn good with their English – a very good thing because Em speaks very little Spanish, and I was a little rusty at that point. They were all interested to hear about our trip, give little tips and things to do and see along the way, and give recommendations of foods to try. We couldn’t have asked for a better group. Interestingly enough, there were a handful of them who were musicians, and so after the eating had slowed, the music started up. Overall, a very fun night with lots of fun people and great food!

you can see most of the crew here - situated around us!

you can see most of the crew here – situated around us!


Because we went to bed early (3:30am), we were up early as well – around 8:30am. We got a little hand-drawn map from Ruy and wandered out to explore a bit. We found out that on a Sunday morning, nothing is open before 11am. Actually, there was one Starbucks that was open, but we both refused to stop there. So we wandered just a block further from the square where the library was (pictured above), crossed over a neat little picturesque walking bridge, and after just a couple of minutes, we came to the most incredible vista that literally took Em’s breath away and nearly knocked her over. We had arrived at the Pacific Ocean atop a sort of cliff, and just several hundred yards out was San Lorenzo – an island mountain rising out of the mist. It was one of the prettiest views you could imagine and was a great example of the many more to come…

Because Peru is in South America, their seasons are exactly opposite of ours. So when we arrived in late August, it was still winter there. It does get chilly in Peru, but not too bad. We were comfortable in a sweater or pullover for the most part throughout the trip, though as we went furthest south to Puno it was quite chilly! [Note: We knew this ahead of time and tried to pack in things that were easy to layer and it ended up working out well!]  The one thing about the winter in Lima is that it is nearly always gray and a bit misty – for almost an entire 6 months! They call this the “panza de burro” or belly of the donkey (underside of the donkey belly is gray). It’s an interesting phenomenon in that when you go just a couple of hours outside of Lima, you will get sunshine and blue skies…but nothing while actually in Lima. It must have something to do with the latitude, altitude, and proximity to the Pacific. I’ve never been, but I imagine it’s similar to what people say about Seattle. Either way, it makes me grateful to have so much sun so much of the time at home in Florida!

us at the vista

us at the vista

san lorenzo lima peru

no, not a Bob Ross painting – an actual picture of San Lorenzo that we took


We did a little more walking and ended up at the Bodequita Verde – a very quaint little cafe. We enjoyed a breakfast of eggs, toast, coffee, and juice. But most of all, we enjoyed the atmosphere of the little cafe and our first breakfast in Peru. Em was also convinced that we ran into a blogger while there – some girl with a guy right behind taking glamour photos while she was posing ever so naturally at the cafe and also getting the low down on the history of the place. #celebsighting

When we got back to the apartment around 1pm, there were signs of life. Marita was up, and cut up some papaya for us to eat – she says that it’s good after a night of drinking. This was also our first foray into the fruit while there – of which we had a lot! We ended up trying all kinds of fruits that I had never had – star fruit, cactus fruit (prickly pear?), and the best – cherimoya! So many fruits, and very delicious. There are so many small markets, shops, and vendors that it’s really difficult to go very far at all without running into some fresh fruit.

Then we took a drive through several parts of the city. The original plan was to stop in the Centro Historico, but there was some type of festival/event going on that just didn’t allow for any kind of parking. That actually turned out fine because we got a driving tour that covered more of the city. [Note: The rules of the road in Lima and most of South America are absolutely insane. There is no way I would ever attempt to drive through that chaos…when riding as a passenger, your best bet is to just trust in your driver and hope it all works out!]  During our little driving tour we also checked out La Punta – which is just about as close as you can get to the incredible San Lorenzo isla. But take note, La Punta is basically in Callao, which is a rough part of the city…so pay attention. Regardless, we felt really lucky to watch the sunset over the Pacific at La Punta, when just about 24 hours earlier, we woke up to the sunrise over the Atlantic at our place. On our way back, we had a coffee at Cafe Bisetti, and did a very abbreviated bar crawl of just a couple stops to down our first pisco sours of the trip.

sunset lima peru

sunset at la punta


The following day we were scheduled to hop on the bus to our first destination – Ica, which is much closer to that small town South American town type of image that you may have in your head. However, before taking off, we had another breakfast of fruit, lots of walking around the neighborhood of Barranco to see the architecture, enjoy some antique shops, and see the Pacific – all absolutely beautiful – and then a stop for lunch. This lunch may have been one of the biggest I’ve ever had, and one of the tastiest lunches I’ve ever had as well. The restaurant was Isolina, and it served family style meals – we had a ceviche and a piece of roasted meat in a delightful sauce – wayyyyy too much for lunch, yet so good! The first – and best! – ceviche we had of the trip.

ceviche lima peru


When we returned to Lima on the back end of our trip, we were seasoned pros. We enjoyed our final afternoon with an impressive late lunch featuring some delightful stuffed mushrooms at Arlotia – just across the street from our hosts. A small and unassuming place from the outside, but incredible food that is a Spanish/French/Basque/Peruvian fusion. We then had a very good meal later that evening at Sibaris, which is a trendy little tapas restaurant featuring great food and a menu that shifts from week to week with what’s in season. I may say this in every post, and every other sentence within every post, but this meal was absolutely phenomenal with all of the flavors and combinations of meats, sauces, potatoes, rice, and beans! (Did I mention that we ate a lot and really enjoyed all of the food while traveling?!)  They also had an impressive cocktail menu to choose from, that probably only a hipster mixologist could truly appreciate. We ended our time in Lima with a trip to a very cool mansion that had been converted into several different bars all segmented off and decorated very distinctly. Ayahuasca is on all kinds of “best bar” and “trendy bar” lists to visit while in Lima, and I would have to agree. This one mansion is like visiting five different bars at once because of the different ambiance in each section as you move throughout the rooms, and the cocktail list is incredibly extensive with all kinds of options with lots of fresh fruits incorporated into many of their drinks. Truly a unique and cool place to enjoy our last drinks in South America.

ayahuasca lima

us enjoying drinks in ayahuasca


There you have it – our start and finish – in South America. We absolutely had a fantastic time in Lima and really loved our hosts showing us around. But again, don’t be fooled – Lima is a big city. Of course it does still have a South American feel, but it’s not that small-town, indigenous type of feel that may come to mind. There are really nice and upscale parts of the city, and there are more run-down and dangerous parts of the city – just like any big city anywhere in the world. The “in-between” stops on our trip are much more reminiscent of the small-town South American towns as you will see.



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The Peru Chronicles: Our Route and Itinerary

Now you know a little bit about the “How and Why” of our choice to head to Peru. Beautiful place, plenty to do, great people and food, and very cost effective. That whole “plenty to do” part actually made our trip a little bit tricky as we were planning.  Perhaps “plenty to do” really means that there’s just way too much to see and do in one trip (even with two weeks!). But that’s not a terrible problem to have… The main concern was trying to find a good balance between seeing as much as possible while not exhausting ourselves with too much travel and not enough time spent in any one place.  In the end, I think that we achieved that goal. We put together a fairly aggressive itinerary to keep ourselves on the move and see a lot, but we never got to the point where we were overly exhausted or running on fumes.

trip through peru


The map above shows our travel route. As you can see, it’s actually quite convenient as we were able to do a loop starting and ending in Lima – where we flew into and out of from Fort Lauderdale. The cities were also nicely situated; most of the bus rides between cities were between 4-6 hours, which wasn’t bad at all. The longest was from Ica to Arequipa (~11 hours) and we actually decided to take the bus through the night and sleep through most of that leg. [Note: The buses are actually quite nice – the seats recline nearly all the way, they provide little pillows and blankets, they have little meals/snacks included, and they show movies. It’s really nicer than almost any normal airline that you will find.]

We planned for about two days in each city, and we gave ourselves about a one day buffer so that we would have a little wiggle room if we wanted to slightly extend a stay, or – more realistically in South America – if we somehow lost a day due to travel complications. [Note: When traveling in South America, sometimes things do happen – there are strikes, routes get cancelled, roads close, etc. You should probably try to have at least some time built in as a buffer, and also go in with the mindset that you need to be flexible and things may shift slightly.] We felt very fortunate in that we did not face any significant travel complications – no missed or cancelled buses or flights (just some slight delays). [#WinningInSouthAmerica]  Below is the itinerary of what we actually did; our initial itinerary going into the trip had one extra stop scheduled that we decided not to do when we got down there – again, be flexible and open to some slight shifting here and there based on your energy level to travel, what you hear from others is worth/not worth seeing, and any unforeseeable hurdles along the way.

peru itinerary

peru itinerary

Could we have squeezed in another place or two? Possibly. Could we have done the same trip in a shorter amount of time? Maybe we could have seen the same places in 11-12 days versus 14, though it would have felt rushed. Could we have spent more time in certain places? Absolutely – we could have stayed another day or more in a couple of different cities. However in the end, we felt like we really got a nice feel for most of the places we visited, and that we got the highlights in those places. Obviously there were restaurants, tours, and sights that we had to miss out on, but I don’t think we regretted anything that we did. We didn’t feel like we wasted any of our days, and we didn’t feel like we went to any places that weren’t worth the trip.  So the traveling was about right for us with the above route and above itinerary.



Probably wouldn’t recommend traveling via carriage…






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The Peru Chronicles: Background

Friends, family, and those who follow me on social media are probably all aware that Em and I recently spent a chunk of time in Peru. In short, it was an incredible two week trip filled with amazing people, fantastic food, and tons of memorable adventures and experiences. The plan is to document some of those memories here on the old blog, along with some additional tips and info for those who may be interested. There will be plenty of pictures as well (I actually took enough pictures that my phone wouldn’t work until I cleared some space!). Be sure to check out our video at the bottom!


machu picchu peru

Yes, we were actually here and took this picture! So amazing, and the picture doesn’t even do it justice…


Why Peru? The Long Story:

I spent a semester abroad (~5months) in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2007. I absolutely loved everything about my experience while there – from the people (my norteamericanos that I traveled with as well as the locals I met down there), the food, the culture, the history, and all of my other adventures. Near the end of my time in Argentina, I was able to take a short jaunt through Peru – about 10-12 days, where a buddy and I stopped in several different small towns and absolutely loved it. A Peruvian friend, Marita, (that I met in Argentina) helped us plan our trip. We saw a lot, but definitely not everything!


Crew from 2007 in Argentina!

I met my wife at college the semester I returned from Argentina. Fresh off my travels, I was constantly talking about South America – specifically Argentina and Peru, of course. Again, the food, the people, the sights, and everything else that came with it. I must have talked it up enough that I got her relatively excited about South America as well. We always talked about going down and making some memories for the two of us in South America.

Flash forward about 6-7 years – I asked her to marry me, and she said yes. One of my wedding responsibilities was deciding on and planning the honeymoon location (pending honey’s approval). South America wasn’t really a consideration for the honeymoon – we knew that we wanted to relax and enjoy leisurely fun in the sun with cocktails. But we also knew that we wanted to make it to South America before kids were on the table at all. So we started putting a little money away each month – our “Honey Money” – to take cover both our island honeymoon trip and the trip to South America that we knew we were going to attempt before even thinking about kids.

The Decision:

When it came down to deciding where in South America – we knew that we were between Argentina and Peru. I knew both of these places relatively well – a substantial amount of time spent in Argentina, and a trip through Peru with a friend in Lima who I knew would be a great resource and help to us. I also knew that both are quite safe to travel in (of course, you always need to be careful and a savvy traveler regardless of your location), and both had plenty to see and do. In the end, there were several reasons we ended up choosing Peru over Argentina.

Cost/expense (one of the most important): We were able to get round trip airfare from Ft. Lauderdale to Lima for $400 / person. That was literally half the price of the airfare from Ft. Lauderdale to Buenos Aires. [Note: We saw some prices as low as $350 round trip, but for different dates than we needed.]  In addition, the US dollar is strong right now in comparison to the Peruvian sol ($1US = ~ 3.25 soles), which means you get a lot of bang for your buck once down there. And you can – and should – think in terms of soles (Peruvian) while there…you can get a very tasty steak dinner for 20-30 soles (about $6-10 US), so it truly is a good exchange rate that is hugely beneficial for us.

Things to see / do and location: There is so much to see and down in Peru (I will be telling you all about some of these places and things!) and most are all within a reasonable distance that can be traveled within a reasonable time frame. Argentina has plenty to see and do, but it is also more spread out – you will lose a handful of days to travel and it will be quite expensive if you try to make it to Buenos Aires, Patagonia, Bariloche, Iguazu Falls, Mendoza, and Cordoba (all very cool places in Argentina – but all spaced quite far apart – you would likely have to fly from place to place). However, in Peru, we were able to hit several cities – each with its own history, feel, and sites to see – without losing much, if any, time travelling and without spending a ton of extra money flying from location to location to location. You can see city, small town South America, ocean, cliff, countryside, mountains, desert, and jungle, all with easy, affordable bus trips from city to city. We were able to see a lot, on a reasonable budget, without losing days to travel and flights.

People: I mentioned a dear friend of mine who lived in Lima and was happy to host us while in Lima as well as help plan certain sections of the trip and give recommendations. She was absolutely fantastic and we can’t thank Marita enough for everything she did! When I mention people, I also mean Peruvian people in general; they tend to be very kind and welcoming – es una gente muy carinosa!


Friends in Lima. We look like the grandparents surrounded by our family!

Food: It’s all about the food, and the food in Peru is amazing! Argentina has a wide-reaching reputation of great wine and food, particularly steak. I will say that the food in Argentina was good, though it may not have fully lived up to its reputation. I remember being more impressed with the food in Peru during my travels in 2007, and this trip absolutely solidified this assessment. The cuisine is so flavorful with lots of vibrant tastes and dishes – don’t worry, I will be sure to recap some of our favorite meals we had while there!


peru dinner

One of our best meals of the trip – “La Trilogia” at Zig Zag restaurant in Arequipa. Three meats – alpaca, beef, and lamb,

along with delicious dipping sauces and quinoa.

So check out our video recap below (while it is a pretty cool video with some amazing footage, it’s just not possible to describe and capture the actual experience of being there – seeing, tasting, and hearing everything in person!). And be sure to stay tuned for more posts on some of our adventures in Peru! Such an awesome trip with so many great experiences.

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Posted by on September 27, 2015 in Advice, Budget/$$, Food, Projects/Activities, Uncategorized


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pickled asparagus

She’s at it again…. I’m gone for an afternoon and I come home to a new project courtesy of my lovely wife. Thankfully, she is often successful. Even more thankfully, this particular project was successful – and edible. She decided to make pickled asparagus, which may sound a little bizarre when you first hear it, but it really just tastes like a nice pickle (which, of course, it is).

She was inspired by this recipe [of course, I think she was also partially inspired by the new mason jars she bought on the sly while I was away as well….nothing says pickle me like a new mason jar], and she said it really wasn’t too difficult.  She was also able to microwave the pickling brine rather than putting it on the stove which made it a bit quicker. She also went with no dill and no full peppercorns. You can adjust to your own taste, of course. One thing that is to our own taste when it come to asparagus generally – and also seemed to work quite well for the pickling – was to use thin asparagus stalks. Some people like the thicker, meatier asparagus, but we both prefer thinner, so it made perfect sense for us to use those when pickling as well.  We even used the asparagus as sandwich pickles for one of our favorite weekend lunches (tuna salad sandwiches with tomatoes – see previous post). And with the pickling liquid and spice from the recipe, I am sure that there are a number of vegetables that would be quite tasty pickled – give it a shot!.


pickled asparagus


As Always. Eat. Be Happy. 

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Posted by on September 16, 2015 in Advice, Food, Projects/Activities


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weekend lunches

For most of the summer, we have had somewhat of a weekend lunch routine. So consider this a version of a “Best Thing I’ve Eaten This Week” but also know that this is something pretty simple that we have actually had most weeks this summer.  It’s tuna salad. That’s right, your good ol’ fashioned, plain Jane tuna salad. Although ours is hopefully not too plain Jane.

We use your typical canned tuna, along with a dollop of mayo and some salt and pepper. Pretty simple and quick to throw together. Our only little trick is that we also add a bit of horse radish as well to our mixture. [Each of these you can add to your desired taste – mayo to level of dryness/moistness, horse radish to level of zing/kick, and salt and pepper to taste.]  The most important thing about any tuna salad sandwich is the slice of tomato that goes on the sandwich. In fact, I’ve even had the tuna salad sandwich without bread – just a bit of the tuna salad mixture on top of a slice of tomato. [PS. If you are going to have a sandwich, be sure to toast the bread!] We are lucky to be close to a great little market where we get fresh, delicious tomatoes for a very good price, along with a lot of other great, fresh produce.

tuna salad sandwich


So here you have it, the tuna salad that you complained about as a kid has now become a weekend staple for us. We love it with the bit of horse radish kick and the nice slice of tomato on toasted bread (above also has some home grown lettuce as well). The whole thing takes about 5 minutes to assemble, so it’s quick and easy on the weekend afternoons. Tuna is also high in protein and pretty healthy, which is a nice bonus (just don’t over do it with the mayo if you’re trying to stay healthy!). Wendy also loves it because we usually give her one of the empty cans to lick – a real treat for that little puppy!

As Always: Eat. Be Happy. 

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Posted by on August 16, 2015 in Budget/$$, Food, Puppy, Uncategorized


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Occupations: Democrat vs Republican

In the wake of the much watched and discussed Republican debate – and the impending political battles and coverage that we will soon be bombarded with – I decided that now is a great time to share this really cool, interactive chart.  The chart shows many different occupational categories and shows the breakdown of Democrat / Republican within each category. The top half of the chart shows opposing party association within similar fields (e.g. “Flight Attendant” leans Democrat while “Pilot” leans Republican).  And if you scroll down about halfway, then it will get a bit more specific, and you are able to break out categories into several sub-categories (e.g. “sales” breaks out into “car sales”, “pharm sales”, “retail sales”, “software sales” etc.).

Here are a couple of examples:

Screenshot 2015-08-09 at 10.41.01 PM

Screenshot 2015-08-09 at 10.42.05 PM


Again, it’s a pretty neat chart, and one that certainly seems pretty timely at this point. The chart is based off campaign contributions; not a perfect measure, but this does seem to have some good face validity just looking through – the occupations seem about what I would have expected.  Will this explain what went on this past week at the Repulican debate? No, but I don’t think anything can quite explain what went on. But the chart is still definitely worth a look and worth keeping in mind as we begin to get bombarded with political coverage – polls, pundits, debates, and the entire circus. Again HERE is the link to the interactive chart.


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the bachelorette, final 2

Congratulations, Kaitlyn, you eliminated the last normal suitor from the show.  Ben H., it’s been real. You were an excellent speech maker right up to the very end, but you will not be making speeches any longer, my friend.  And that means – drum roll please…………

Screenshot 2015-07-14 at 9.31.11 PM

We are down to the final two. And boy do those two hate one another. Nick, the shady character, and Shawn, the brooding jealous guy.  They genuinely do seem to dislike one another – and that’s putting it mildly. At this point with these two left, I think that Em might be right in that Kaitlyn will be the first ever bachelor(ette) to end up with no one. [Note: We actively avoid spoilers, so if we are right on this one, it’s because we’re perceptive. And if we’re wrong on this one, it’s because we actively avoid spoilers…]

The show has really been driven by Nick’s late appearance which was a bizarre wrinkle in the show (along with the entire process of “choosing” the bachelorette up front). That plot twist led to Shawn’s pure hatred of Nick from the get-go, and really the show has since focused on those two and the burning hatred between them. Whether it’s verbal confrontations, long camera shots of glaring stares, or confessionals stating how much they hated one another – that has been the story. And that story has only been reinforced by Kaitlyn – countless chats with Shawn about Nick, confessionals of her feeling guilty and worried about those two, many tears spilled worrying about them, and now deciding to keep those two as the finalists. It has become almost bigger than the “story within the story” – it has become the story.

So Kaitlyn, if we are right and you end up with neither, you might actually be in better shape than choosing one of them. I did predict at the end of Chris’s season that you would be the bachelorette, and I also said that I was worried it would end up ruining you…even as one of the most entertaining and engaging personalities from that season.  Maybe it’s best to cut your losses and say no to both. Otherwise you run the risk of ending up with one of these two:


Screenshot 2015-07-14 at 8.21.05 PM


-Shady character

-Called out Andi on national TV in the previous season

-Talks with a low mumble and super shifty eyes

-Loves scarves and skinny khaki/corduroy pants

-Is “deep” – meaning way to serious and emo

-Has a super bizarre family with like a million relatives







Screenshot 2015-07-14 at 8.51.49 PM


-Will never get over the fact that you dated 30 other dudes

-Will never get past you and Nick

-Is super brooding and serious

-Will never get past you and Nick

-Will never get past you and Nick

-Although he does have a great bod…





For now, we will have to wait an extra week for the drama to unfold…. The next episode will be “the men tell all” episode, which is a great way to try to publicly shame and air dirty laundry for all who were involved in the drama that is the bachelorette.  I have a feeling there will be some interesting questions and topics that are covered….

Healer Tony

Zombie Joe

JJ and Clint  (an item??)

Cupcake (last seen sobbing on a cliff in Ireland)

Jared and his boyish charm

D-bag Ian  (he would be great given the opportunity to be the bachelor…)

Josh and his half-shaven head

And maybe even an update of Britt and Brady in the friend zone…


And of course, they’ll probably also be announcing the future bachelor – or at least alluding to it – on the show. My top picks for now are as follows:

  1. Ben Z. –  The guy is an athlete and ruggedly handsome. Plus he did soften up just enough to let everyone know that there is a sensitive side to him, which of course ABC wants for anyone who will be on the show. I’m pulling for Ben Z.
  2. Ben H. – While I think he’s a little bland, he is a great at giving little speeches, and he played the game well. No one hated him, there’s no drama, and he was one of the last dudes hanging around which does give him a realistic shot.
  3. Jared – I think this is a long shot because I think that Jared isn’t someone that people would immediately find appealing or compelling, yet, like Farmer Chris, Jared did a great job of showing how genuine and what a great guy he was throughout the season. (Although, I do wonder how happy ABC was with Chris’s season, so maybe that doesn’t work in Jared’s favor…)

Until next time friends….


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