A Full Day … A Heck of a Day

It was a busy, incredible day from my (Reid’s) perspective.

6 presentations with
5 students per team over
4 hours at
3 bodegas attended by
2 faculty means
1 incredible day for my colleague, Stefano, and me.

The work presented collectively led to:

  • 4 custom-designed (from scratch) tools for operating, tracking and/or measuring aspects of tourism at different bodegas
  • a completely redesigned website for a client – refocusing the bodega as a place where food and wine come together
  • an implementations of MailChimp to stay connected with people after they visit a bodega
  • an implementation of Trello to manage internal processes used to fulfill commercial wine orders
  • development of a strategy (and implementation of aspects of that strategy) for using tourism to initiate and deepen customers’ brand loyalty

And generated direct business value for the three bodegas with whom we worked via:

  • 100’s of hours per year saved,
  • 100’s of thousands of opportunities for inaccurate data entry per year eliminated,
  • better alignment of communications with a bodegas’ desired brand image, and
  • completely new functionalities like the ability to measure the performance of a tourism department.
No sleeping on this ride to the bodegas

No sleeping on this ride to the bodegas

8:30 AM – No Sleep til… Kaiken!

After limited sleep over the past several days as we pushed to finish the projects, we depart for the three wineries… and the work doesn’t stop.

9:30 AM – Kaiken arrival

Teams set up to present to the director of tourism, the manager of tourism, and three of the tour guides.

9:35 AM – “The Button”

Kaiken Tourism Information team presents.  Very strong during the dry run on Thursday. Even stronger today.  Awesome demo of the new tool.  Clients were very engaged – and happy – as they saw “The Button.”  Press it, and all of the reports for measuring the tourism department are generated automatically – a process that used to be all manual.

Joanna and Trevor summarize the impact of their teams' work

Joanna and Trevor summarize the impact of their teams’ work

10:00 AM- #goosebumps

Kaiken Customer Loyalty team presents.  I got #goosebumps (for real) to see how well they were presenting, as their dry run had a lot of rough edges.  John Henry’s journey to being a more loyal customer connected it all – told the story – it was perfect.

Molly walking our Kaiken client through a detailed analysis of their social media strategy

Molly walking our Kaiken client through a detailed analysis of their social media strategy

10:30 AM – “You will change the world.”

The Kaiken director of tourism to the students: “it is smart people like you that are going to change the world.” Students work with clients after presentations to install software and walk them through social media recommendations.

10:35 AM: An Old tradition, Una Nueva Bandera

For the first of 4 times today, I pull out the UVA in Argentina program flag – which we all sign as a tradition.  We started a new flag for this, our 11th program, and our Kaiken points of contact placed the first signatures on it.

Stefano thanks our clients at Kaiken

Stefano thanks our clients at Kaiken

11:15 AM –  Todo Español, Todo El Tiempo

After a quick drive, Stefano, Jose, and I arrive at La Madrid Durigutti and the Tourism Information System team presents.  Two of the owners, the general manager, and 5+ staff members attend.  The tool they designed was just what the client needed — simple, clean, to the point.

11: 45 AM  – “The most impressively orchestrated demo ever”

No exaggeration.  It was like when a snowboarder puts down a never-before-seen trick in the halfpipe.  “The most impressively orchestrated demo ever” was pulled off by the “Order to Cash” (OTC) team- who were working on improving the process between a commercial order being placed and shipped.  Four team members simultaneously started videos on their laptops that walked through how 4 staff at Durigutti can use Trello (an online tool that the team customized for their client).   Most importantly, the demo powerfully communicated how Durigutti could use Trello to better manage OTC.

Let the demo begin!

Let the demo begin!

One cool hat

One cool hat

12:15 AM –  A Part of the Family 

The two owners in attendance – brothers Hector and Paolo Durigutti – are famous Mendocinian winemakers.  Hector concluded his remarks by telling us we are now a part of this bodega’s family… and that is exactly how we felt when La Madrid Durigutti staff gave us a most  amazing gift.  Baseball caps with not only their bodegas’ names on it, but the UVA sabre logo on front. I did a double take when they pulled those out. Wow.


12:45 PM – LaGarde Web

Stefano, Jose, and I arrive at Bodega LaGarde and the Website team is presenting shortly thereafter.   The team had made changes to their briefing after the dry-run yesterday – and those changes were key as they engaged the clients more deeply in the discussion that followed the students’ presentation.

1:15 PM -“Hello, this is Carolyn – I’d like to set up a tour on January 14 …”

Tay-Jota took the floor, leading off as the tourism reporting and reservations system team presented their work.  They nailed a super clever demo as Carolyn (our Mendoza tourism expert who has supported both Lagarde teams for the whole program) pretended to call Hannah M to make a reservation at La Garde – allowing the team to show many features of their Google Sheets-based reservation system.

Ethan delivers the goods...

Ethan delivers the goods…

1:40 PM – The Other Tay-Jota

As we shared a few gifts of gratitude with our clients at La Garde, Stefano told the story behind the Jefferson cup as only he can.  It’s an exceptional story behind what UVA folks know as  a symbol of sharing, of “making do with what you have from where you are,” and, of course, of drinking wine.

2:00 PM – Real solutions that are used by our clients = post-presentation handoffs

As at both other wineries, work continued after the presentations as the teams met with LaGarde tourism staff to finish the hand-off of newly developed software tools and associated processes.

A LaGarde team helps the client resolve some issues with the new tool

A LaGarde team helps the client resolve some issues with the new tool

They like it!

They like it!


Yes, that is a giant barrel behind us... one that was used for wine production years ago.

Yes, that is a giant barrel behind us… one that was used for wine production years ago.

6:00 PM – Durable Organs

We had the 3rd of our three cultural discussion before dinner – and it was a joy.  The students were engaged and insightful with their observations and comments about what it takes to adapt and cope when working internationally.  Apparently having “durable organs” is just one of many important characteristics needed when adapting to a new country and culture as we have been doing in Mendoza 😉

Bodega Los Toneles, site of our final dinner

Bodega Los Toneles, site of our final dinner

8:30 PM – “One last steak…” (isn’t that a song from Hamilton?)

Dinner was great – at an old winery – 6 courses. Wine pairings.  Great company.

11:30 PM Did you let the program change you?

A highlighting the day for me, though, was after dinner when we moved outside and shared our reflections on the program.  After I had a bit of fun teasing the students about how their dance moves (or lack thereof) strangely aligned with their project teams, I gave a shout out to Michael Ledwith – the then-undergraduate systems engineering student who envisioned this program.  Through UVA in Argentina, Michael has changed my life and, as I told the students on our first night in Mendoza, this program can change their lives, too, if they let it.

A few jokes at the teams' expense

A few jokes at the teams’ expense


We closed the evening with each student, Stefano, and myself taking the floor to share how our experiences in Mendoza had affected us, after which we ceremonially signed the program flag.


Hannah sharing how her experiences in Mendoza have impacted her

Hannah sharing how her experiences in Mendoza have impacted her

1:00 AM – An end … or a beginning?

Just as this day may have been the ending (of the program), for many the return to the hotel was the beginning of their night out with new friends.

And so it is as this program comes to an end.  But, this day is as much about a beginning as it is an end.  A beginning of taking lessons learned in Mendoza forward into the rest of our lives.

We had tons of great times and plenty of laughs in Mendoza.  And I couldn’t have been prouder of the students on this program and of the work represented by their presentations today.   Tears welled-up in my eyes multiple times while typing this blog entry.

To harken back to a quote (from Jimmy Valvano) that I read at dinner, “It was a full day… a heck of a day.”


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Presentation Day (Friday) – a student’s perspective

Friday was an exciting, but bittersweet, culmination of our two amazing weeks in Mendoza. After many great moments on the trip, it was a bit sad to see everything come to an end. We’ll miss the long walks to Aristides to grab a bite, the post-meal gelato, and the agua con gas.
The bittersweet theme was definitely present at Bodega Durigutti/Lamadrid where we had a farewell lunch with our clients following our presentations to the bodegas’ management. Over a meal consisting of delicious beef empanadas, we discussed our time in Mendoza and made plans to eventually return to visit our gracious Argentine hosts.

The program ended with an incredible six-course dinner at Bodega Toneles, a winery in the heart of Mendoza.

Great people, great food, great wine.

Great people, great food, great wine

The food was amazing, however the highlight of the meal was the ending discussion in which both the students and faculty shared the various ways in which the trip has had an impact on their lives. It was moving to hear the wide range of ways in which the trip has helped us expand our horizons, develop new perspectives, and form new relationships. With Stefano and Reid as our mentors, this trip has been the source of so many fond memories and experiences that we will remember for a long-time.

-Chris DeSouza

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January 11th: Making Presentations

We did not visit the wineries today but that did not stop the groups from getting up early and grinding out some solid work. We spent the day working on our presentations. Groups were spread out all over the hotel from the lobby to individual rooms to the fourth floor conference room.

Then at 3 o’clock the first group presented their initial version of their presentation to classmates and the professors. Combined we gave constructive and sometimes very critical feedback to make certain the presentations were perfect. The last group and the best group presented at 6:00 pm. After the initial presentation the groups went back to work to revise their presentations according to the feedback they received. Eventually we started to get cabin fever and had to leave the hotel…


Groups went out to dinner around 8:30 as project work winded down. Many went to La Lucia, a steakhouse and some went to Zampo, a Peruvian tapas restaurant. Everyone was pretty tired and after a typical 3-hour dinner, a few groups resumed working on their respective projects and doing practice presentation runs in preparation for the final presentation. Some groups were up until 2:30am!

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A Day of Lasts

Wednesday was the last day of on-site work at all of our wineries. And indeed, it was a day of lasts. Last opportunity to ask face-to-face questions of winery staff before our presentations on Friday. Last minute iterations to our projects before fully committing to a direction. Last true siestas, as tomorrow we’ll be working on our presentations throughout the afternoon. Last routine bus rides to and from the winery, which 95% of us use as half an hour mini-siestas. We do love siestas.


In the morning at Durigutti/Lamadrid wineries, teams ran through exhibits with our client to gain valuable feedback before offering our recommendations on Friday. Pictured here, Ben and Hayley run Emiliano, head of the production planning process, through a process-flow diagram of the winery’s future order tracking system once exciting new software is installed.

user testing

Meanwhile at Kaiken, the two teams got some user testing done. One of our many lasts, this was the last time we could get our clients to explore the solutions we build and bug test. Pictured above, the brand loyalty team shows Alejandra how the revamped email system will work, while the excel team considers the feedback they had already received. Although we all want to “wow” at our presentations Friday, we don’t want to surprise anybody with our work and recommendations, so this was an important day to throw out feelers and show any new system updates.

With bad weather looming over the Andes to the west, most teams cut their siestas short to begin the grind that was finalizing executive reports and beginning to prepare presentations. Most teams go through (and continue to go through) several revisions of their reports before receiving the coveted “green light,” the explicit phrase Professors Reid or Stefano will give a team when the report is ready for client eyes. Tomorrow, the teams will all get a chance to practice their presentations in front of the professors, David, and Jose. Most teams worked through dinner til late, and mentally prepared themselves for the long day ahead.


Best of all, our day of lasts ended with a first! During our nightly meeting, we witnessed our first Argentine hailstorm. For some, it was a surprise to find out water ever falls out of the sky in Mendoza.

– Luke y Sam

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Crunch Time in Mendoza

The UVA in Argentina team was up bright and early on Tuesday, January 9. After a light breakfast at El Portal Suites, we made our way over to the respective wineries. With a final draft of the executive report due at 8 PM and client presentations on Friday morning, everyone was itching to get started. At Lagarde, the website team made some last minute changes to a prototype in preparation for an 11 AM meeting. The other team at Lagarde tested the Excel database they had been working on, hoping to smooth out any final kinks before a final roll-out on Wednesday.


At Kaiken, the teams were relieved to hear that the rain and hail from night before hadn’t significantly damaged the vineyard’s grapes. After this good news, both Kaiken teams set down to work under the pavilion.  The teams were working hard when a feathery distraction arrived to lighten the mood – a rooster.


Many of the students befriended the rooster by feeding it nuts and crackers while others (Joana) were afraid of the bird. After the excitement subsided, the teams wrapped up the second to last day at the winery before heading back to El Portal for siesta.

Over the next three hours, most of the class was either sleeping or working. Forming a minority of three, Kelly, Candace, and Varun chose to go for a run before the evening session to work off some of the calories from all of the phenomenal but heavy meals.

After project work and a cultural discussion on presenting to foreign audiences, we walked as a group to the restaurant “Fuente y Fonda” for a classic Argentinian home-cooked meal. The group was treated to a variety of traditional appetizers including a chewy and delicious cow tongue. The entree consisted of several dishes including cannelloni, shepherd’s pie, a veal milanese, and plenty of wine. We took advantage of this opportunity to relax and engage in some good conversation during an otherwise stressful time.



¡Hasta Mañana!

-Varun and Kelly

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As we entered our second full week here in Mendoza, the work really started to pick up. Executive summaries were the due the next day, and every group was working hard to make their best possible report. However, that didn’t stop the Kaiken groups from taking a break to acquaint themselves with some locals.

Joana in particular was popular among these pups. She even got them to sit when they had just met her. That’s big time right there. That’s what it’s all about.

After the client sessions, we took the usual siestas, had another work session, and had a meeting about cultural differences in and out of the workplace in Argentina. And that’s when things got kicked into 12th gear.


It started to hail so hard that hundreds of birds began to fly over the hotel. You could even hear the hail hitting the gutters in the bathrooms. Despite all of these setbacks, someone did manage to get a picture of the scene for your benefit:

Screen Shot 2018-01-09 at 6.13.41 PM

That’s pretty neat. Once the hail subsided, it was time to watch the College Football Playoff, where Alabama beat Georgia by scoring a touchdown on a throw from a player whose name no one could pronounce in overtime. Even Argentina can’t make us forget that there are 3 teams in sports that win everything. It was a bittersweet end to a good day, but everyone got the sleep they needed to attack the next day with the same vigor.


  • John Henry O.
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Jan 5th: ¡Feliz Viernes!

Happy Friday from Mendoza, Argentina! As we near the end of our first week of client days, our projects have truly gotten into full swing.

After a full work week, a couple of our groups were treated by their vineyards to a well-deserved treat of asado and wine. The team at Kaiken was able to taste some of the bodega’s award-winning varieties, including its famous malbec, “Mai.” We enjoyed the patio’s breathtaking mountain views, tried to identify the wines’ flavor profiles, and finally learned why people swirl wine. It was a great opportunity to relax with our teams and experience a new aspect of Kaiken.



Meanwhile, in the Durigutti/LaMadrid bodega we had a phenomenal opportunity to visit the Durigutti Vineyards with Hector Durigutti himself. Located a quick two-minute drive through an unkept hilly dirt road, we entered an area surrounded by smaller mountain ranges that preface the Andes themselves. Inside there were what seemed like endless acres of brivant grape vines being firmly held up by netting (used to limit damage from the bitter morning hail storms) and strings; closely neighbored by a man-man irrigation system carrying brisk cold water directly from the Andes.


Besides the peaceful quiet beauty surrounding the vineyard, my favorite part of this quick endeavour was learning about the leaves themselves. As pictured below, Mr. Durigutti talked us through the process of manually harvesting their infamous grapes and how delicate one must be to not damage their century-old leaves.


Having taken enough braggadocious snapchats of the breath-taking view of the vineyard, we made our way back to the Bodega to join the crew in a family-style Asado


We returned to El Portal for a quick siesta. Nap time will certainly be hard to give up when we return to the states! After an evening working session, we were off to experience the nightlife of Mendoza! Many of us enjoyed more of Mendoza’s Italian influences and had a nice bowl of pasta–with more Malbec, of course!

We’re looking forward to a weekend of more exciting adventures here in Mendoza!

Molly & Gus

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January 7th: Relaxation Round 2

The two groups from Saturday switched lifestyles Sunday, trading in the business of wine for the rejuvenating powers of mud, and vice versa.

The group that had previously gone to the spa was treated to an extra 15 minutes of sleep to wake their already relaxed bodies and bus to the Bodega Santa Julia.  In addition to the wine tasting and tour experienced by the previous group, the group today got to see the grandchildren of the Zuccardi family enjoying the fruits (pun most definitely intended) of their parents’ and grandparents’ labor in the form of a refreshing dip in the winery’s pool.  During a large lunch that has all but become the norm in Argentina, this group also got to meet China and Mono Liso, two bundles of joy spoiled by the willingness of Americans to give up their food to dogs.

The second group woke up early excited to head to the spa, for an experience which had been described by members of the other group as the “best day of their lives.”  The Cacheuta Spa would most certainly live up to this bold claim.  Upon arrival, students eagerly let out their inner pigs and smothered their entire bodies in mud.  As the mud dried and their bodies slowly hardened into statues, students took this opportunity to take pictures of both themselves and the hot springs which opened up to an incredible view of the Andes.  Following a lunch filled with unlimited food and limited water, students took the last few hours at the spa to relax their bodies and minds and prepare for the upcoming week at the clients.





Mud zombies, serene spas, mountain views and bountiful buffets

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end: the two groups headed back to the hotel for a brief siesta (all that food and relaxation takes it out of you!) before diving into project work.  Monday marks the beginning of our final week in Mendoza, which means that report deadlines and final presentations are fast approaching.  Though we weren’t welcomed with coffee and medialunas this session, I don’t think anyone minded – we were still in food comas from the huge lunch at the winery or spa, respectively.

To make sure everyone had a clear focus going into the last week of client work, Reid and Stefano met with each group for 30 minutes during the work session to clarify feedback.  It was incredibly helpful to discuss what we were doing well and where we could improve with some fresher eyes.  Perhaps even more beneficial than these discussions with the professors, however, was the conversation it inspired in groups afterwards: having Stefano and Reid poke and prod at our projects pushed us to clarify our problem statements and recommendations so that it would be clear to our clients what we were trying to say.  Although it sometimes feels like we are on vacation with the warm weather, daylong trips to the spa and tons of delicious food, this trip has also been an incredible learning experience: not only with respect to working in a new environment, but also in articulating our ideas clearly and learning what it takes to deliver valuable results to clients.

IMG_4381Who are the professors and who are the students!?


The best team ever, hard at work!

At the end of the work session, some students munched on the leftovers from the Zuccardi picnic on the terrace, while others headed out for yet another meal from one of Mendoza’s fantastic restaurants.  Still stuffed from lunch, others (me) settled for a banana and some yogurt I had gotten at the Carrefour earlier in the week: it was the perfect amount to fuel a small game night in our room for a few hours.  To polish things off, we headed out to Michel gelateria for the best gelato (out of three places!) I have had thus far.  Generous scoops of both Chocolate Michel (chocolate gelato with chopped up bon bons) and Tiramisu on a cone were a delicious finish to another great day in Argentina.  Then it was off to bed to be ready for client work again at 8:25 the next morning!


Gelato with some pals to end another great day! (It tasted a lot better than it looks in this picture, I promise)

– TJ Sample and Morgan Patterson

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Jan 6, Cheers to the Weekend

What started as an average Saturday morning, took a turn for the best when students found scrambled eggs as part of the usual breakfast buffet. What was previously a luxury food only available to those with a lactose intolerance, is now offered to everyone with enough discipline to wake up for breakfast.

Following a light meal, the students were split into two groups. Group one was loaded into the bus and departed with only a minor time delay. The group headed to Bodega Santa Julia where we partook in a winery tour and wine tasting. During the tasting many of us let out our inner wine connoisseur. “Oaky,” “full-bodied,” and “I can see my fingers through it so it must not be that good” were only some of the expressions used to describe the wine. The afternoon came to an end with a picnic at Zuccardi. The menu included an assortment of meats, as usual, and some fruits and veggies. During the late lunch, the group met some new friends: China, a chunky ray of sunshine that releases gas when held, and Mono Liso, a golden retriever with big friendly hazel eyes and a small brain.

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Meanwhile, group two arrived at the Cacheuta Spa a little before noon where we proceeded to check in and receive our robes.  After changing into our robes the group then split up to explore all the features at our leisure.  The spa offered many amenities including an infinity pool, sauna, ten hot tubs of varying temperatures and everyone’s personal favorite, the mudding.  Students had the opportunity to cover ourselves with mud that would exfoliate our pours and make us feel rejuvenated.  Needless to say everyone took advantage of this at least one time during the day.


The spa day was broken up nicely by an immense lunch buffet.  This buffet had large portions of meat right off the grill as well as the largest selection of veggie options that we had seen at a meal all trip.  The meal also offered a very diverse dessert table with pastries and fruit.  After the buffet, the group needed go back and nap in the shade around the hot pools or soak up some sun with some dogs.


As the spa day came to a close we were starting to feel the draining effects of the sun more and more.  Most of the group was becoming very tired and just decided to lay out next to the infinity pool with some of the dogs that were around the spa.  Stefano had to come over to get us past when the bus was supposed to depart because no one wanted the soothing day to end.

Back at the hotel everyone took a long siesta probably due to being so tired from the sun. At around 10 pm groups broke out for dinner and most people took an early night.  After a busy week of client work there is nothing like relaxing at the spa or enjoying a picnic in a vineyard, and that is exactly what the students did.

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One week down, one to go

On the morning marking the end of our first week here in Mendoza, everyone seemed to have fallen into their rhythm. After a low key night where we watched the Hoos pull off a great win against Tech, the group had gotten their best night of sleep yet and woke up feeling energized to start the day. My group dutifully boarded the bus for the hour long drive to our bodega, excited as today offered the opportunity to speak with a consultant from the systems company that our bodega was interested in using for the inventory management overhaul with which we were tasked with helping.

Upon arrival, we realized just how much the continuation of our project hinged on learning about the software system and it’s possible functionality. This being Argentina however, we were instructed that the system consultant would not arrive until 11:30, giving the two teams at the bodega a little over an hour to ask all of our questions. Seeing as we had some time before that meeting, my peers and I regrouped, deciding to make the most of our time and the resources available at the bodega (namely the people working there). As usual, everyone was more than happy to speak with us about our project, easily offering up the information pertinent to our questions and incredibly honest about both the good and problematic aspects of their inventory process. All of this information was helpful in solidifying our understanding of some of the processes occurring at the winery both as they currently are and how the employees wished they would be.

Too quickly, 11:30 arrived. However, as time continued to tick by, it became apparent that we were not going to have the opportunity to speak with the system consultant. Though unfortunate, this forced our team to reassess the direction of our project and our ultimate goals. With only a few days left before our final draft due, we needed to ensure that whatever problem we tackled, we had enough information and time to analyze the information in order to offer a comprehensive recommendation. I thought that this was an excellent lesson of how real world work unfolds, reminding me yet again that though this program is technically a class at UVA, we are all gaining incredible real world consulting experience.

Talking to the winery staff

Talking to the winery staff

After returning to the hotel and taking a well deserved siesta, everyone reconvened for the afternoon work session to continue making progress on our projects.

After working on our projects all day, we were rewarded with an all you can eat asado dinner at El Patio de Jesus y Maria. Asado is a popular barbecue technique used at many social events throughout Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay. At El Patio de Jesus y Maria, the cook showed us how he places large portions of beef and pork on a flaming grill. Salt is the only ingredient he adds to enrich the flavor. As tray after tray of asado were brought out, we enjoyed the signature meat of an Argentinean asado, blood sausage (the stomach lining of a cow) as well as various other cuts of pork and beef.

Learning to cook asado

Learning to cook asado

Enjoying dinner

Enjoying dinner

After dinner, the group headed to a Microbrewery called Antares. Craft Beer has become quite popular with microbreweries springing up throughout Mendoza. Bars such as Antares and another local favorite, Hanger 52, now set themselves apart by providing a range of craft beers. However, these premium “cervezas” pose a challenge for the wineries as these niche beers are quickly becoming a substitute for fine wine. Everyone enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere where we could all hang out and continue to get to know each other. Overall, it was a fun evening to end a full day.


– Hannah and Hayley

January 4th, 2018

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