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Introduction To Horta
HortaThe Azores are tall volcanic islands with steep drop-offs immediately offshore. The islands receive abundant rain and are very green and fertile. The lofty heights and greenery conspire to provide breathtaking vistas reminiscent of the islands of the South Pacific from a distance.

The climate in the Azores is dominated by the Azores high, a high pressure area which usually circulates to the south or southwest of the islands. Summer typically brings prolonged periods of warm, sunny weather.

Most yachts stop in the Azores on their way east across the Atlantic, though few of them cruise around the islands. As a consequence, few yachties take time to enjoy the islands' secluded bays, unspoiled anchorages and protected harbors.

Horta, on the island of Faial, is where most yachts stop. The town has been a meeting place for yachts and other vessels crossing the Atlantic for centuries. If offers one of the finest harbors in the Azores.

Every spring, hundreds of yachts bound for Europe from North America and the Caribbean converge on Horta. Beginning in May and continuing through June and well into July, the harbor is filled to capacity with yachts, and the town is packed with crew from the yachts. The vessels range from giant megayachts to twenty-some foot or smaller pocket yachts, and their crews are truly international. The low prices in the Azores tempt many cruising yachties to linger awhile.

The Azores are a part of Portugal, renowned as one of the most inexpensive and fascinating destinations in Europe. One travel book reports that four decades of dictatorship sidelined the country from modern progress and Europe's power centers, and nowhere is this more evident than in the Azores. But the people are among the friendliest you'll meet anywhere--and they are very proud of their islands and their heritage. One expatriate American resident told us that the people who live in these islands consider themselves Azoreans first and Portuguese second.

Portugal is a member of the European Community. The currency throughout the country, including the Azores, is the Euro.

The central feature of the town of Horta is the waterfront, which includes a large commercial pier that functions as a breakwater, and the Horta Marina, which is operated by the government. The harbor is deep and the approach straightforward.

No visit to Horta by boat would be complete without a stop at the renowned Peter's Cafe Sport, on the main street just above the marina. With its trademark blue front, Peter's has been a watering hole for yacht crew for generations, and the cafe still serves up sandwiches, beer, wine and stronger librations for thirsty crewmembers. It's not unusual to hear conversations in more than a dozen languages at Peter's. And Peter's museum, on the floor above the cafe, has a vast collection of scrimshaw with some pieces dating back to 1884.

The island of Faial is home to about 16,000 people, and it measures about 7.5 by 11 miles. Since 1976 Faial has been the seat of the Parliament that governs what is known as the Autonomous Region of the Azores and most of the administrative departments, including the tourism department.

When you visit Horta, you will see evidence of the devastating earthquake that struck the island early on the morning of July 9, 1998. The quake was felt on six of the nine Azorean islands, but the greatest impact was on the island of Faial. At least eight people died, 100 were injured, and more than 1,000 were left homeless. Thanks to government assistance, many of the damaged and destroyed buildings have been rebuilt, but evidence of the quake remains everywhere on the island.

Charter flights direct to Ponta Delgada from Boston operate twice weekly in season, and regularly scheduled flights to Horta are available from Lisbon. In the summer ferries are available to the islands of Pico, Sao Jorge and Terciera.

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The Horta Marina

Hotel MarinaEvery year more than 1,000 yachts call at Horta Marina, a well-sheltered government-operated marina with 300 slips inside the main breakwater at Horta. The "old marina" is tucked behind the long mole, and the "new marina," completed in 2001, is located beyond the marina office farther to the south. Depth in the marina is a minimum of seven feet MLW, mostly much deeper, with a tidal range of about four feet.

According to marina management, Rally yachts will be berthed alongside floating docks in the new marina, with no requirement for rafting or Med-mooring. The docks are modern, with fresh water and 220 volt, 50-cycle electricity at each slip. Dockage, including water and electricity, are included in the rally fee.

Contact Horta Marina on channel 16 on arrival. Berths will be assigned in advance by Marina Horta, and Rally yachts will proceed directly to their assigned berths. Customs, immigration and other formalities will be handled by agent, Marco Quadros of the Bensaude ("Ben-Sah-oode") agency. Offices of immigration, maritime police, customs and Guarda Fiscal next to marina office in same building. No one is to go ashore until clearance is granted.

Fuel is available at the marina office for cash (Euros) only. Duty free fuel is available only for yachts taking on 1,350 gallons or more, and special arrangements must be made in advance for duty free fuel.

Horta has no pumpout facilities. There is good water flow in the marina and the water is mostly clear. Marina management recommends that Rally yachts use holding tanks, but there is no requirement that they do so and few yachts at the marina appear to use holding tanks.

Dumpsters available at entrance to new marina and many other locations in the old marina. Also oil disposal drums are located on the piers for recycling oil, chemicals, and small batteries. 12 v batteries may be left at MAYS for recycling. Glass and paper can be separated for recycling on the island, but no specific receptacles are located in the marina. No extra charges are imposed for any of these services.

Horta Marina is right in the center of downtown Horta, with restaurants and shops only minutes away. The marina includes showers, a laundromat, and a snack bar with a patio.

Although English is not the primary language, many marina employees speak English.

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The Azores and Portugal are part of the European Community, and the Euro (€ ) is the only currency widely accepted. Rally captains are advised to obtain at least a small amount of cash in Euros before departing, to pay for incidental expenses such as clearance fees in the Azores.

ATMs are widely available in Horta and easy to use, many of them offering menus in Portuguese and English. Look for the "CAIXO" signs.

Credit cards, especially Visa and MasterCard, are widely accepted. Euro travelers's checques are available, both in the U.S. and in Europe.

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Horta is not a large town and it's easy to walk to most shops and businesses. Taxis are readily available. However, a rental car is nice to have--especially for large provisioning chores and extended sightseeing.

Rental cars are available, though there are virtually no automatic transmission cars for rent on Faial; the straight shift cars work best in this mountainous country with curvy roads.

Hertz (tel. 292-200-031) is in downtown Horta and at the airport. Hertz rental rates are generally higher than those of Auto Turistica Failenese.

Auto Turistica Failenese (tel. 292-292-308) is also in Horta and at the airport. A tiny Puegot 206 rented from this company at the airport in May 2003 was €20.00/day plus mileage, fuel and insurance.

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MarketsGetting good, fresh provisions in Horta will not be a problem for Rally yachts. Finding specific U.S. brands, however, will be. By U.S. standards, meat is usually tough and goes straight from slaughter to the market, with no aging. Americans living in Horta advise trying a little to make certain you like it before stocking up. On the other hand, vegetables are fresh from local fields and are generally considered superior in taste to those we get in many stateside supermarkets.

Be sure to try the Azores cheeses, which are delicious and inexpensive. Likewise, Azores and other Portuguese wines are the least expensive in the islands, yet they are very drinkable. For something different, try the Portuguese "green" wine which is much better than you'd think.

For one-stop grocery shopping, the best choice by a wide margin is Hipermercado Modelo (Tel. 292 208-150) on the road to the hospital, about 15 minutes walk from the marina office. This is a large U.S.-style supermarket which offers by far the best selection of food on the island, and it is open 0900-2100 weekdays, 0830-2100 Saturdays, and 0830-1300 Sundays and holidays.

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Peters CafeThe town of Horta and the island of Faial offer many restaurants, and eating out is so inexpensive by American standards that you may find yourself in search of a restaurant for most every meal. Be sure to try the excellent Portuguese and Azores wines.

Here are a four stops Milt and Judy enjoyed on their short visit to Horta in May 2003:

Peter's Café Sport Some years ago Newsweek labeled this one of the best bars in the world, and the tradition continues today. Peter's is like a magnet for yachtsmen, and no visit to Horta is complete without at least stopping here for a drink. Café Sport always seems to be crowded, especially late in the afternoon in the spring when sailors fill the bar to overflowing. To be sure, it's more more a drinking establishment than a true restaurant, but sandwiches and snacks are available--along with advice in just about any language you might want to hear. Don't miss scrimshaw display (for a small admission charge) on the second floor. Just up the steps from the new marina and to the right on Largo do Infante D. Henrique.

Canto da Doca Walk up and out of the new marina and turn left, and you'll find this restaurant minutes away at the end of the basin overlooking the marina. Fresh fish and meats are served at your table and cook right before your eyes on superheated volcanic stone slabs. This restaurant is a favorite with visitors and locals alike, and the food is delicious. We can personally recommend the tuna and the beef. Estrade Nova, Horta, tel. 292-292-444.

Papapizza Just like an old fashioned pizza parlor--tile floor and everything--Papapizza offers the biggest selection of pizzas and burgers on the island, and, take your choice, you can eat in or take out. The pizzas are heavy with delicious Azores cheeses. On the street just above the old marina, about a five-minute walk from your slip depending on how fast you walk. Largo do Infante D. Henrique nº4 r/c, Horta, tel. 292-283-585

O Esconderijo (the Hideaway) You'll need a car for the 20-minute drive to this tiny place nestled in the hills of Cedros on the north side of the island, but it's worth the drive. Be sure to call Nick, the Swiss proprietor, for directions because it's hard--really hard--to find. Nick is also the chef, and his kitchen turns out wonderful European food--his French fries are among the best we've ever had. Daily specials. Eat inside or outside on the patio. Rua Joan Alves nº3, Cedros, tel. 292 946 505

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The rally fee includes a four-hour tour of the island of Faial as detailed below. An optional tour of the adjacent island of Pico will also be offered if there is sufficient interest. Details on the tours are as follows:

Half Day Tour of Faial Duration: About 4 Hours
Price: included in rally fee
Includes: Bus tour with English speaking guide
Minimum Participants Per Bus: 15
Maximum Participants Per Bus: 50

Horta. Drive along the oceanside and sloping hills that overlook the city of Horta from the East. Stop at Espalamaca for a beautiful view of Horta, Pico and São Jorge. On a clear day you can sometimes see the island of Graciosa. Drive by fields cut by masses of hydrangeas overlooking the Flamengos Valley, the first Flemish settlement on Faial. Largo Jaime de Melo. Colourful forests of Japanese cedar. Stop at the volcanic Caldeira where you can visit the peaceful interior of a crater 400 meters deep and 2 kilometers wide. Ribeira Funda. Praia do Norte. Stop at the Capelinhos Volcano and the ruins caused by the volcanic eruption of 1957/58. Visit the Capelo Park, a nature reserve. Drive along the south coast through Castelo Branco and Feteira. Arrival back in Horta.

Optional Full Day Tour of Pico Duration: About 8 Hours
Price: EUR55.00
Includes: Boat tickets HORTA/PICO/HORTA, Bus Tour with English speaking guide, Lunch at a local restaurant
Minimum Participants Per Bus: 25
Maximum Participants Per Bus: 50
Maximum 4 Busses Per Day

Departure from Horta on the 10:00 ferry to the island of Pico. Arrival in the village of Madalena at 10:30. Cabeço Chão and Miragaia, picturesque villages. Stop at Arcos do Cachorro. Santa Luzia. The presence of the sea and São Jorge accompany you. Stop in São Roque to visit the Old Whaling Factory. View of São Miguel Arcanjo. Drive along the heavily dense trees. Lajes. Visit the Whale Museum (entrance fee not included). Lunch. Stop in São Mateus for those who want to visit the church and/or do some shopping for souvenirs. Beautiful

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Horta has two full-service laundries offering wash and dry and folding service, with pick up and delivery service. One is located at the end of the marina just beyond the fish dock area, and the other is just around the corner from the Cafe Volga. If you have difficulty finding them, ask at the marina office.

In addition, the marina offers a self-service laundromat (four washers, four dryers) in the old marina in the same building as the snack bar.

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Internet connections are available in Horta and are generally speedier than those found in Bermuda.

Espaco Talassa (www.espacotalassa.com) has two fast Internet connections at the rear of their whale watching shop beside Costa & Martins, Rua Conselheiro Medeiros (just across from the old marina) at about €4.00/hour in May 2003.

Base Peter Zee, just up the street from Peter's Café Sport, also sells whale watching trips and has several computers and offers Intenet access at competitve prices.

Hortanet, 11 R. Walter Bensaúde, offers Internet access on eight stations for €4.80/hour. This shop is located just before Matriz on the right side of the street going northbound.

Agent Marco Quadros invites Rally participants to use the Bensuade Agency's Internet connection, using Bensaude's computers, on a space-available basis at no charge. The office is just up from the new marina at number 42 Rua Vasco de Gama.

Mid Atlantic Yacht Services (MAYS) has metered direct dial phone booth with phone jack for www access using your own laptop and your own Internet provider via dialup connection. You can buy a PT phone card at MAYS to pay for your calls.

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Travel to Azores and within the Islands
Virtually all flights to the Azores are through Lisbon. Among the few exceptions are twice-weekly Azores Express charter flights from Boston to Ponta Delgada, which require connecting flights to Horta. For further information, go to www.satavirtual.org/aexpress/menustart.html (in Portuguese) or call 1-800-762-9995 to speak to someone in English. Milt and Judy Baker used this charter service in May 2003 and while they report while it had a cattle-car feeling and every seat was taken, it offered a reasonably priced and time-saving direct flight to Horta--something not available elsewhere. (However, their flight arrived an hour late, which caused them to miss their connecting flight to Horta requiring them to remain overnight in Ponta Delgada. Milt concluded that in the end, flying through Lisbon may have been more satisfactory.)

There are several round-trip flights a week between Lisbon and Horta, as well as daily flights between Horta and other islands in the Azores.

Horta has several good travel agents; according to Jimmy Cornell the best is HORTATUR (Rue Conselheiro Medeiros 7, tel. 292-391-531/2 (hortatur@mail.telepac.pt) a couple of doors up from Costa e Martins opposite the marina. Contacts there: Cora Rodrigues and Elizabeth Mello. Other travel agents: Abreu, 292-208-490 and TopAtlantico, 292-293-293-420, www.topatlantico.com.

Ferries run between the Horta waterfront and Pico, Sao Jorge and Terciera.

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Consular Information Sheet
U.S. Department of StateBureau of Consular AffairsWashington, DC 20520Consular Information Sheet Portugal May 8, 2002

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Portugal is a developed and stable democracy with a modern economy. Tourist facilities are widely available.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport is required for entry into Portugal. A visa is not required for tourist or business stays of up to 90 days. Portuguese law requires some non-European Union foreign nationals to register with immigration officials within three days of entering Portugal. The law affects those who transit a Schengen country (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, Sweden and The Netherlands) by air en route to Portugal and stay at noncommercial accommodations. For further information concerning entry requirements for Portugal, travelers may contact the Embassy of Portugal at 2125 Kalorama Road N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, tel. (202) 328-8610, or the Portuguese consulates in Boston, MA; New Bedford, MA; Providence, RI; New York, NY; Newark, NJ; San Francisco, CA; or Los Angeles, CA.

DUAL NATIONALITY: In addition to being subject to all Portuguese laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Portuguese citizens. U.S. citizens who are considered to have acquired Portuguese citizenship may be subject to certain aspects of Portuguese law such as mandatory voting and military service. For additional information, please see the Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov for our flyer on Dual Nationality.

CRIME INFORMATION: Though Portugal has a relatively low rate of violent crime, petty crime against tourists is on the rise in continental Portugal. Travelers may become targets of pickpockets and purse-snatchers, particularly at popular tourist sites, restaurants, and on public transportation. Rental cars and vehicles with non-local license plates are targets for break-ins, and travelers should remove all luggage from vehicles upon parking. Travelers should also avoid using automatic teller machines in isolated or poorly lit areas. Drivers in continental Portugal should keep car doors locked when stopped at intersections.

In general, visitors to Portugal should carry limited cash and credit cards, and leave extra cash, credit cards, and personal documents at home or in a hotel safe. While thieves may operate anywhere, the U.S. Embassy receives frequent reports of theft from the following areas:

Lisbon Area: Pick-pocketing and purse-snatching in the Lisbon area occur in buses, restaurants, the airport, trains, train stations, and trams, especially tram number twenty-eight to the Castle of Sao Jorge. Gangs of youths have robbed passengers on the Lisbon-Cascais train. At restaurants, thieves snatch items hung over the backs of chairs or placed on the floor. There have been reports of theft of unattended luggage from the Lisbon Airport. Special care should be taken at the Santa Apolonia and Rosso train stations, the Alfama and Bairro Alto districts, the Castle of Sao Jorge and Belem.

Other Areas: Thefts have been reported in Sintra, Cascais, Mafra and Fatima. Automobile break-ins occur in parking areas at tourist attractions and near restaurants. Special care should be taken in parking at the Moorish Castle and Pena Palace in Sintra; and at the beachfront areas of Quincho, Cabo da Roca, and Boca do Inferno.

Azores: In contrast to continental Portugal, pick-pocketing and purse-snatching are not common occurrences in the Azores. There are no reports of organized crime or gangs.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The emergency number for medical and police assistance is 112. U.S. citizens can refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND INSURANCE: Medical facilities are available in Portugal, but in some cases they may not meet U.S. standards. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. Uninsured travelers who require health care overseas may face extreme difficulties. Please check with your insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation and for adequacy of coverage. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov or autofax service at (202) 647-3000.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international traveler's hotline at 1-877-fyi-trip (1-877-394-8747); fax: 1-888-cdc-faxx (1-888-232-3299), or by visiting the CDC Internet home page at http://www.cdc.gov.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Portugal is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good to Fair
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair to Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Good to Fair

Portugal has one of the highest rates of automobile accidents and fatalities in Europe. Portuguese driving habits, high speeds, and poorly marked roads pose special hazards. In continental Portugal, fines for traffic violations are substantial and usually must be paid on the spot. Taxis are a reliable means of transportation, though travelers should pay attention to discrepancies between the meter fare and the amount requested by the driver. Buses are reliable and inexpensive.

In the Azores, driving can be treacherous due to narrow cobblestone streets, blind curves, unprotected embankments, herds of cows in the countryside roads, and the high speeds of other drivers. In contrast to the continent, traffic violations are registered by radar and later forwarded to the offender via the postal service - payments are not made on the spot. Taxis do not have meters. The fare consists of a base fee plus a posted rate per kilometer traveled. Public buses are inexpensive. Bus services begin at 7:00 a.m. and generally operate until 8:00 p.m. depending on the destination.

U.S. visitors to Portugal may drive with a valid U.S. driver's license for up to six months. For international driving permits, please contact AAA in the U.S. at tel. 1-800-222-4357. For specific information concerning Portuguese driver's permits, vehicle inspection and mandatory insurance, please contact the Portuguese National Tourist Office by telephone at 1-800-767-8842 or via the Internet at http://www.portugal.org.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Portugal's Civil Aviation Authority as category 1 - in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Portugal's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at tel. 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at tel. (618) 229-4801.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Portuguese customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Portugal of such items as firearms, antiquities, medications, business equipment, sales samples and other items. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Portugal in Washington, D.C. or one of the Portuguese consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements. Portugal's customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at theU.S Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of The Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA carnet in the United States. For additional information, please telephone (212) 354-4480, or send an e-mail to atacarnet@uscib.org, or visit http://www.uscib.org for details.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Portuguese laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. In 2001, Portugal made consumption, acquisition and possession for personal use of small amounts of drugs, not to exceed 2.5 grams of hashish or 1 gram of cocaine or heroin, an administrative offense. Criminal penalties for trafficking in illegal drugs, however, are strict and can range up to 15 years in prison. If the defendant belongs to a criminal organization, jail sentences range from a minimum of 10 years to a maximum of 20 years.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Portugal has a history of infrequent but severe seismic activity. Responsibility for caring for disaster victims, including foreigners, rests with the Portuguese authorities. General information regarding disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) home page at http://www.fema.gov.

REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS: Americans living in or visiting Portugal may register at the Consular Section of the U.S Embassy in Lisbon and obtain updated information on travel and security within Portugal. Embassy is located on Avenida das Forças Armadas, Sete Rios, telephone (351)(21) 727-3300, fax (351)(21) 726-9109, Internet home page: http://www.american-embassy.pt. The U.S. Consulate is located in Ponta Delgada on the Island of San Miguel in the Azores. The address is Avenida D. Henrique, telephone (351)(96) 282216/ 7/ 8/ 9. There is also a Consular Agency located in Funchal, Madeira, on Rua Tentente Coronel Sarmento, Ed. Infante, Bloco B-4 Andar, Apt. B, 9000 Funchal, telephone (351)(29) 174-3429 or fax (351)(29) 174-3808, open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.

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