Costa Rican cigars

Xiphos CR Habano Robusto

I did a series of reviews on Xiphos cigars, both of their Costa Rican offerings as well as their Nicaraguan offerings but I missed one. The Costa Rica made Xiphos CR Habano Robusto and I guess it’s time to smoke and review this 5×54 robusto now.


The blend of this cigar consists of Peruvian and Dominican fillers, a binder from Peru and a hybrid Habano wrapper from Ecuador. I liked all the Xiphos cigars that I smoked, even the Connecticut scored high for a Connecticut Shade cigar so I have some expectations for this stick.


The wrapper is gorgeous, a reddish coffee brown color, a few thin veins and a very nice glossy shine from the oils in the leaf. The rings are the blind and silver ones, as mentioned in the other reviews and the Greek theme fits the name. The finish of this cigar is great, a great cap, good shape, it feels evenly packed and well constructed. The aroma is strong, it reminds me of horses and spices.


I flat cut the cap, the cold draw is perfect. I taste some dry sweetness and pepper. After lighting I taste a smooth coffee, very flavorful. After half an inch the flavor changes to more woody with a little lime. Halfway I get spicy cedar with floral notes, some sweetness and a little pepper. The pepper slowly gets a little stronger.


The draw is great. The ash is beautifully layered, light gray in color and firm. The burn is straight. The smoke is medium thick and full. This cigar is mild to medium bodied and medium flavored, very smooth and nice. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, this is a perfect morning cigar.

Score: 92
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Categories: 92, Costa Rican cigars, Tabaccos de Costa Rica, Xiphos | Tags: , , ,

Mbombay Vintage Reserve Salomon

One of my Dutch friends is a big fan of Mbombay and he gave me a cigar that I smoked for a yet to be published review just a few weeks ago. And I liked it, I can’t remember the final score but I knew I liked it. And then, while in Singapore two weeks ago, my friend Nuzli, a great designer who’s doing some photoshopping for Mbombay gave me a brand new cigar, the Mbombay Vintage Reserve, both in a Salomon and in a Lancero vitola. I’m smoking the Salomon now.


I reached out to the Mbombay instagram account for some background information, we exchanged two or three messages but I haven’t gotten any information yet. I blame that on the IPCPR which is this weekend so brand owner Mel Shaw is probably crazy busy at the moment. Hopefully I get some information soon. Maybe it’s the same blend as the limited edition Vintage Reseve 1973 that got released at IPCPR 2016, but I simply do not know.


The cigar has a light brown wrapper with quite some thin veins, it looks oily and I have my suspicion that it’s a Connecticut Shade wrapper even though it’s not as pale as most Connecticut Shade cigars. I love the shape of a good Salomon and the cigar feels well packed but with the right amount of sponginess. The ring however, I think a better job could have been done. Whenever you walk into a humidor, all the other Mbombay cigars stand out because of the artwork while this one, well, let me put it that way, if I was browsing a humidor I would, at first glance, think that it’s a Davidoff cigar. White oval ring with dots and a thin secondary ring is kind of their trademark. At second glance you see a peacock, very detailed and nice but a far cry from the colourful and unique artwork from the other Mbombay cigars. The cigar has a strong aroma, straw and hay come to mind with a little pepper.


The cold draw is fine with a woody aroma. After lighting I taste that classic Connecticut Shade flavor, something I don’t like, but the flavor is mild and some sweetness actually make it enjoyable. After a centimeter I taste cedar, sweetness and some lemon, with that Connecticut Shade touch. After a third I taste a creamy, buttery cedar with a hint of vanilla and that Connecticut Shade flavor. Halfway I taste the cedar and Connecticut Shade flavor with a mild chocolate and a growing cayenne pepper. In the final third the cedar is still creamy with a little bit of vanilla and the cayenne but the Connecticut Shade mustiness as I call it is getting the overhand. Near the end the cigar gets spicy and peppery, suddenly it gains strength too.


The draw is fine. The smoke is medium in volume and thickness, but beautifully white. The smoke gets thicker and I see more of it once the burn reaches the thicker part of the cigar. The ash is almost silver and black, with thin rings. The burn is straight as an arrow. I would say this is a medium strong cigar, medium flavored and well balanced. The smoke time is two and a half hours.

Would I buy this cigar again?  Depending on the price, I might. This is one of the few Connecticut Shade cigars out there that I like.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Costa Rican cigars, Mbombay, Tabaccos de Costa Rica | Tags: , , , , ,

Vegas de Santiago Gran Reserva Maria la Gorda

Over the almost fifteen years that I’ve been smoking I have smoked a lot of brands, a lot of variety cigars, some I liked, some I didn’t like but one of the brands that I smoked almost from day one and still like today is the Costa Rican brand Vegas de Santiago. And they like me, they know my blog and at the Intertabac trade show they asked me to come over and handed me some samplers including this Gran Reserva, a blend unknown to me and I can’t find it on their website either.

 


I did found some information on the website of a German retailer and it turns out that it’s a very budget friendly bundle cigar, less than 5 euro for this 6×60 and the, now discontinued torpedo with the same blend once scored 94 points for Cigar Journal and earned the “best buy” title. I can’t find any information about the blend though.

 


The milk chocolate colored wrapper has a mild reddish glow but no oil. It feels a bit like velvet. The ring is copper colored with dull golden edges and white letters, very simple. The cigar feels well constructed and the shape is good, the cap is nice. The medium strong aroma is typical barnyard.

 


Because of the big ring I decided to grab my punch instead of a cutter. The cold draw is great, the flavor is mild savory. After lighting I taste a sweet flavor with a mild coffee bitterness. Due to the big ring gauge the flavors are muted. A quarter of an inch in I taste pepper with cedar. After a third I taste cedar, pepper and honey. The flavor doesn’t change much, only the pepper grows stronger.

 


The draw is good. The light gray ash is firm. The smoke is medium thick and in volume. The burn on this medium bodied and medium flavored cigar is straight. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? Not in this ring gauge, that’s for sure.

Score: 84

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Categories: 84, Costa Rican cigars, Tabacalera Vegas de Santiago, Vegas de Santiago | Tags: , , ,

Vegas de Santiago Don Luis Toro & Conchita

I have smoked and reviewed several Vegas de Santiago cigars and I like that I see more and more cigars coming from Costa Rica. I thing that there are some good things happening south from Honduras and Nicaragua and the more choice we have, the better, as long as the quality is good. And I never had a complaint about Vegas de Santiago.

The Don Luis line is named after the Cuban cigar master Don Luis Santana Lamas, who cured the tobacco for Vegas de Santiago and rolled some of their production. The filler is undisclosed Caribbean tobacco while the binder and wrapper both are from Ecuador, the binder is a Habano 2000 and the wrapper a Connecticut.

Vegas de Santiago Don Luis Toro


The wrapper is smooth and oily but has a thin vein popping out which should have been flattened or put on the back side of the cigar. The ring is super simple, just white with gold and a logo, well printed though. The cigar feels like its evenly packed and well constructed. The cigar has a medium strong aroma of barnyard and old wood.


I used my butterfly cutter to decap the cigar. The cold draw is great and I taste pepper and raisin. After lighting I taste coffee with a little salt. The flavor changes to a slightly salt wood, smooth and nice, with a little vanilla. Halfway the cigar is all about cedar with a little salt and a mild acidity. I also taste a little nuts, pepper and sweetness. The nut flavor is getting stronger with a nice mix of pepper, vanilla, sugar and cumin.


The draw is fantastic, nothing to complain about. The ash is light gray and very firm. The smoke is medium to full in thickness and volume. The burn is razor sharp. The cigar is well balanced and smooth. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half.


Would I buy this cigar again?  Yes

Score: 90
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Vegas de Santiago Don Luis Conchita


This 5×35 sized cigar looks like something I should enjoy, I love thin ring gauges. The wrapper is Connecticut but with a reddish, almost rosado, glow and quite oily. The ring is simple and the cigar feels well made. The aroma is faint barnyard.


The cigar is so thin that punching isn’t an option, so I grabbed my Xikar butterfly cutter. The cold draw is on the good side of tight. I taste a little tobacco. After lighting I taste a very pleasant, sweet and balanced coffee. Halfway I taste a mild milk chocolate with the coffee and sweetness. In the aftertaste I get some black pepper. At the end I taste some nutmeg and cumin too.


The draw is just a little tight but not tight enough to create problems. The smoke is a little thin because of the draw. The light colored ash is firm and the burn is straight. This is a medium bodied, medium full flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour.


Would I buy this cigar again? I think I will.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Costa Rican cigars, Tabacalera Vegas de Santiago, Vegas de Santiago | Tags: , , , ,

Xiphos Connecticut Robusto

Last year I reviewed two of the three Xiphos cigars that are made in Costa Rica, today I will tell you about my experience with the third Costa Rican offering from Xiphos, the Connecticut robusto. And there is a danger in having me rate a Connecticut, even though my dislike for the wrapper is decreasing, its still at the bottom of my wrapper list, even below Candela.


The cigar is made from a Peruvian binder, filler from Peru and the Dominican Republic and a wrapper from Ecuador, a Connecticut as the name suggests. The 5×50 robusto is made at the Tobaccos de Costa Rica factory, just like the other CR cigars from Xiphos.


When I remove the cellophane I notice the shine on the light colored wrapper. The wrapper is beautiful, it feels like velvet and its smooth yet a little too light for my liking. The ring is fantastic, like I wrote on the other Xiphos reviews, these rings are just perfect. In the middle of the cigar I feel a softer spot and the head of the cigar is uneven and the cigar has that typical musty Connecticut shade aroma, medium strong, like in an old, abandoned hay shack that has been empty for years.


I cut the cigar. The cold draw is very good. The cigar doesn’t have a lot of flavor unlit. After lighting I taste a mild coffee. After half an inch I taste a mild cedar with a little bit of the Connecticut Shade mustiness that I don’t like a lot. There is some white pepper in the aftertaste. After a third it’s a slightly acidic cedar. Halfway the acidity is gone, the cigar is more herbal now with a cedar undertone. The final third is mild nutty with some acidity.


The draw is phenomenal, the right amount of air flow. And the smoke is great too, thick and plentiful, the only thing that would make it better was if the color was white. The light colored ash is layered and firm. The burn is straight. This is a mild cigar, medium flavored with a nice evolution. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? No. But if you like mild cigar and/or Connecticut Shade wrappers you will probably like it. It is a good cigar, just not for my palate.

Score: 88
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Categories: 88, Costa Rican cigars, Puriscal Factory of Tobaccos, Xiphos | Tags: , , ,

Vegas de Santiago D8 serie

In july I wrote a review on the Vegas de Santiago D8 robusto. I smoked a lot of Vegas de Santiago cigars back before I started working in the industry, ordering straight from the factory in Costa Rica and always liked the cigars especially when you looked at them from a price quality point. And when I consulted for a small cigar importer in The Netherlands I pointed them to Vegas de Santiago as we lack Costa Rican cigars on the Dutch market.

At Intertabac I spoke with Marc Nieman, the owner of Vegas de Santiago and he told me that their cigars will be available on the Dutch market soon and thanked me for my help. He gave me a bunch of cigars to review too, including a couple of sizes of the D8. Instead of writing separate reviews I decided to combine all reviews in one.

Vegas de Santiago D8 Short Robusto


This is the smallest of the cigars I recieved, a 4×50 short robusto that I can’t find on the Vegas de Santiago website. The ring is white with a red square and golden details and letters that quite pop, a nice ring. The wrapper is dark, oily and smooth. The construction looks and feels good. The cigar has a mild straw aroma.

I punched the cigar. The cold draw is perfect, I taste a mild raisin flavor.
After lighting the cigar with a soft flame I taste a mild citrusy coffee. After a few puffs the cigar is floral. After a third I taste the floral flavor but with a mild peanut flavor and a tiny bit of salt. Halfway it’s floral and vanilla with some wood. In The final third I taste some red pepper too.


The draw is fantastic. The burn is equally fantastic. The salt and pepper ash is firm. The smoke is full. This is a medium bodied and medium flavored cigar with a smoke time of seventy five minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? This is a nice cigar, if the price is right I will.

Score: 89
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Vegas de Santiago D8 Corto


The corto is a nub sized cigar, 4×60, a size I don’t smoke often because I’m not a fan of big ring gauges. The ring is the same as on the short robusto but the wrapper looks a shade lighter in color and a little less oily. The construction looks and feels good, while the aroma is mild and reminds me a bit of sawdust.


I get a good cold draw, grassy, spicy and raw tobacco flavored. The cigar is so thick that I used a jet flame to light it. I taste toast, cinnamon, chocolate and some honey sweetness. After a third I taste honey cedar. Halfway some mild red pepper shows up in the aftertaste. Near the end the pepper gets stronger but not overpowering.


The draw is good and the light gray ash has nice thin rings, it’s firm and dense. The burn is razor sharp but the smoke is thin. The cigar has a decent evolution for a big ring gauge cigar but it’s not as dynamic as the corona. The body and flavors are medium. The smoke time is a hour exactly.


Would I buy this cigar again? I actually liked the sweetness a lot, I disliked the ring gauge.

Score: 89
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Vegas de Santiago D8 Corona


I love the corona size, a vitola that doesn’t get the spotlight it deserves and is blown away by the thicker robusto, toro and gordo sizes but it remains in my top 5 of favorite vitolas. Again, the ring is the same and the wrapper has the same shade as the court, yet it has a little tooth to it and feels more leathery because of that. The cigar looks good and the construction feels good too.  A mild acidic aroma with some straw is what I smell.


I decapped the cigar with a flat cut. The cold draw is a little tight and quite peppery. After lichting I taste sweet coffee with pepper. After half an inch I taste cedar, lime, pepper and toast. After that I taste nuts, toast and some pepper. Halfway Its wood with herbs and a rocket salad pepper.


The draw is a little tight. The smoke is good, nice volume, nice thickness, beautiful white color. The ash is light gray, dense and firm. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is and hour and fifteen minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? Apart from the tightness in the draw this is a very pleasant cigar so yes!

Score: 90
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Vegas de Santiago D8 Canonazo


A classic toro size, 6×52, yet it has a double name on the Vegas de Santiago website, Canonazo and Toro but ‘m fine with either, call it what you like, a cigar is a cigar. Same ring again and a leathery  chocolate brown wrapper with a beautiful reddish glow. The construction feels good and the cigar looks well rolled. The aroma is mild, its a bit of a barnyard aroma.


I cut the cigar and found a great draw with a mild acidic and raisin flavor. After lighting I taste a mild and creamy coffee. After a few puffs I taste walnuts with coffee. After an inch i taste a creamy vanilla with some honey. Halfway an acidic flavor is dominant with some honey and a little cream. The final third starts with a honey cedar.


The draw is fine and the smoke is thick and white. The burn is pretty straight. The light gray ash is coarse. This cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored with a nice evolution. The smoke time is two hours.


Would I buy this cigar again? I stick to the robusto.

Score: 88
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Categories: 88, 89, Costa Rican cigars, Tabacalera Vegas de Santiago, Vegas de Santiago | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Xiphos CR Habano Lonsdale

Late october I smoked and reviewed my first Xiphos cigar and today I’m reviewing my second Xiphos. Same brand, same factory but a different size and blend. This 6 1/2×42 Xiphos Habano Lonsdale is made in Costa Rica with an Ecuadorian hybris Habano wrapper, a Peruvian binder and filler from Peru and the Dominican Republic. The factory is the Tobaccos de Costa Rica in Puriscal where a few other well praised brands are made too.


Now Xiphos doesn’t only do business in Costa Rica, the brand also has two lines made at Order of the New Ages factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. That is the factory of Noel Rojas who owns the Guayacan brand too and the factory of Jas Sum Kral, a brand that I recommend highly and will be in my top 25 without a doubt. Both Nicaraguan made Xiphos lines will be reviewed in 2018.


Once I release the cigar from the cellophane prison I find a smooth and silky, chocolate brown wrapper with a nice glow and thin veins. The rings are gorgeous, a deep blue with silver letters and details and Greek styled letters. The construction feels good and the cigar is well shaped with a nice round head and a good triple cap. The cigar has a strong and dark aroma, barnyard, horse, hay, straw and manure.


I cut the cigar since it’s too thin to punch. The cold draw is great and I taste raisin. After lighting I taste espresso, full flavored and strong. After half an inch I taste oak with a little lemon and cedar. Halfway the flavors tone down a little in strength. I taste some wood, a mild pepper and herbs. The final third lacks pepper but I do taste a hint of vanilla with the wood. At the end I taste nuts too.


The draw is fenomemal, the smoke is medium plus in thickness and volume. The light gray ash is flaky. The burn is pretty straight. The cigar is medium bodied and flavored, with a nice evolution. The smoke time is two hours and ten minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Much to my surprise I would go for the short panatella instead of the lonsdale, but I would not mind smoking this one again either.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Costa Rican cigars, Puriscal Factory of Tobaccos, Xiphos | Tags: , , , ,

Xiphos CR Short Panatella

Xiphos, I read the name here and there in the cigar groups on Facebook but I didn’t really know much about the brand, the cigars, where they were made, blends, the idea behind the cigars. Until earlier this month, when I recieved a box from a very generous sender who wanted my opinion on the cigars. I got a nice jar with five different types of cigars, all in a pair and even three of these small Xiphos CR short panatella.


The CR Short Panatella is made in Costa Rica as you might have guessed from the CR in the name, in a place called Puriscal. Now my geography of Costa Rica is a bit rusty so I’ll google where that is after reviewing the cigar. The cigar is rolled Cuban sandwich style, 60% of the leaves used are longfiller, the remaining 40% is short filler. The filler consists for Peruvian, Nicaraguan and Dominican tobacco with a Peruvian binder and Connecticut wrapper from Ecuador.


Just from looking at the wrapper you wouldn’t think its a Connecticut wrapper as it has a nice medium brown color and it’s quite oily and smooth. The ring is shiny, blue with silver decorations in Greek style and the Xiphos name in Greek letters. A nice detail, the X in Xiphos is made out of swords, and Xiphos is the greek word for sword. The construction feels good, no soft spots and the cigar bounces nice back when I gently squeeze it. The cigar has a nice fresh hay smell with a little acidity to it.


I cut the cigar and the cold draw is perfect and I taste a like tea. After lighting with my Ronson varaflame I taste coffee, cinnamon and some cream. After a centimeter I taste a creamy cedar with a little lime. Halfway I also taste a little pepper. The pepper disappears while the cigar picks up a little strength, I still taste a creamy cedar flavor but now with a hint of vanilla in the aftertaste.


The draw is great, no flaws here. The amount of smoke is amazing from a small, short, Cuban sandwich cigar. The white ash isn’t that fork but that’s not expected from a thin Cuban sandwich. The burn is great. I would call this cigar mild to medium bodied and medium flavored, it’s smooth. The smoke time surprised me, much longer than I expected with an hour and five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? This is a great morning smoke.

Score:  90
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Categories: 90, Costa Rican cigars, Puriscal Factory of Tobaccos, Xiphos | Tags: , , , ,

Vegas de Santiago D8 Robusto

When I was a novice cigar smoker I smoked a lot of Vegas de Santiago cigars from Costa Rica and always liked them. I reviewed quite a lot of them too but due to finding a job in the industry and having more cigars to smoke than is humanly possible and Vegas de Santiago not being available on the Dutch market I haven’t smoked one in years. Until now that is, I’m going to review the D8, made with undisclosed filler and an Ecuadorian binder and wrapper.


Why I went to the bottom of my humidor to grab this cigar? Pretty simple, I was talking with another cigar distributer in The Netherlands about employment and they asked me what brand I would suggest if they wanted something different and reasonably priced. I got them in touch with Vegas de Santiago and earlier this week I saw a post which suggested that Vegas de Santiago is coming to the Dutch market. Maybe I should have asked for a commission but that’s too late now (now please remind: this review has been written a few months ago, on may first, but I have a lot of unpublished reviews waiting to be published so there’s always a delay.


The Habano 2000 wrapper looks great, a medium dark brown but smooth looking wrapper with one medium flattened vein. The construction feels great with a nice cap and a beautifully rounded head. The ring is classic, white with a red centre, golden and black lines and letters but well printed. The cigar had a nice, medium strong, manure aroma.


I punched the cigar, my preferred way of decapping a cigar. The cold draw is perfect with a raw tobacco and mild peppery taste. I immediately taste a nice dose of full coffee after lighting the cigar with my soft flame. After a third I taste a buttery, creamy wood with pepper. Halfway I taste wood, herbs, spices and a little pepper, all mild creamy. Soon after it’s buttery wood with pepper. The final third star with walnuts and pepper, still a little buttery creamy.


The draw is great and the light gray ash is firm and dense. The smoke could be a little thicker but the volume is good. Later the smoke gets thicker. The burn is straight as can be. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored with good evolution. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I liked this cigar a lot.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Costa Rican cigars, Tabacalera Vegas de Santiago, Vegas de Santiago | Tags: , , , ,

Bespoke Salomone

Before the Bespoke brand was released in The Netherlands the distributer handed some samplers to a few of his resellers and one of them, my friend Berry, owner of Van Lookeren in Amsterdam, gave me this Costa Rican made salomone to try.
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I love the shape and the milky chocolate colored wrapper has a few veins. I spot a little damage and I feel a soft spot in the middle and the tip is a bit crooked. The aroma is pleasant. The cigar band needs some work, what’s on that black band? It’s a drawing of a fan, but with what? The predraw is fine, sweet with quite some pepper.
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I light the cigar and direct after the tip I have to relight. I taste white pepper with some wood. The pepper slowly fades away and a little bit of leather appears. It is a nice combination with the wood and after three centimeter I also taste some citrus.
102515bespokesalomon3
After a third I taste a mild pepper, leather, wood an toast. The leather slowly grows and the citrus returns. The flavors are very subtle. It’s leather and toast, pepper and citrus with a slowly growing toast. The last third starts with toast and some leather, the white pepper is gone but slowly reappears, and slowly grows stronger, just as the leather. At the end it’s a nice mixture of the toast, leather and pepper.
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The draw is fine but I also get false air. I get enough smoke which is medium thick. The silver gray ash isn’t too firm but the burn is sharp, only at the end I have to correct once. This cigar is medium bodied, medium flavored and lasted me for two hours.
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Would I buy this cigar again? I would if it wasn’t €12,80 fixed price here.

Appearance: 8
Construction: 8
Draw: 8
Burn: 8
Smoke & ash: 8
Aroma first part: 7
Aroma second part: 8
Aroma third part: 8

Categories: Bespoke, Costa Rican cigars, Tabaccos de Costa Rica | Tags: , ,

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