Monday, November 26, 2007

Clouds of Bogota

This may sound like a kind of hippie thing to say, but I’ll say it anyway because it’s true: I really enjoy looking at the clouds in Bogotá. This isn’t a recent discovery. I noticed it the first day I arrived. Here the clouds are much lower in the sky than in the United States. That obviously has to do with the city’s elevation of 8,661 feet above sea level. But I lived for a year in Aspen, Colorado, which is 7,890 feet above sea level, and I don’t recall the clouds being as close to the ground or as being as big and simply fun to admire and photograph. Yesterday afternoon I looked out my apartment window and saw the view below. Though I’ve seen many marvelous clouds in the sky (as you can see more examples here) I still stopped and gazed in amazement.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Air Pollution

Since arriving in Bogotá, I’ve had a cold off and on. Basically, I’ve been a little congested with a sinus headache at worst. I’m not alone. I meet and see many people who are blowing their noses and are stuffed up. The climate is partially to blame. It can be hot, cold, rainy, windy, blue skies, gray skies, cloudy, and clear all in one day. Sometimes it is all of these things at the same time depending on where you are in the city.

With that said, there is more to blame than mother nature. After riding the bus all day for my job and Spanish class in the evening I blow my nose. Then I look at the tissue and see a black residue. I think to myself, this can’t be good for my respiratory system. I read an article in El Tiempo yesterday that said there are about 20,000 buses running each day in the city. There are two bus systems in Bogota: Transmilenio and the older, smaller buses. Transmilenio is a fleet of extra-long red buses that have their own designated lanes for rapid transportation and avoidance of the perpetual traffic. On the normal streets and avenues there are large buses (buses), medium-sized buses (busetas), and vans or minivans (colectivos). Transmilenio costs 1400 pesos (US $ .80 aprox.) while the smaller buses cost 1000 to 1250 pesos (US $ .60 aprox.). (For more information on transportation you can visit a previous blog of mine). Most of these buses are full throughout the day, and overflowing at rush hours. You can see what I mean in the video below.

Thankfully for Bogotá, a city of over seven million people and growing, there are the tall green mountains that encompass the city as well as several large parks. The largest, Simón Bolivar Metropolitan Park, is five times bigger than Central Park in New York City. So why am I blowing black soot into a tissue? The answer is simple: the buses. Sure the cars play a significant part to the air pollution, but the buses are appalling. They run on diesel fuel that contains a high amount of sulfur, which is why many people I know have had bronchitis or other respiratory illnesses. The current diesel fuel contains 1,200 parts per million (ppm) of sulfur. The city’s environment ministers are proposing to cut the diesel fuel to 500 ppm of sulfur by next year and 50 ppm by 2010. Is this a good solution? I don’t think so. Sure, it will be better than what is happening now, but with today’s politics it seems as if the number of people and buses will keep growing. Cleaner fuel is not the best answer. I think Bogotá should try to emulate the train system in the country’s second most populated city, Medellín. (I’ve heard the reason Bogotá cannot change to trains is because the Mafia controls the buses. I have no proof, but I heard it from someone who has lived here for more than 40 years and is a reliable source). It is there that they have the Metro de Medellín as well as a Metrocable line in the works. However, even in Medellín the streets are becoming overcrowded with traffic. Nevertheless, a good train system is better than a good bus system. After all, who wants to have black soot in there nose?

Above is traffic a few blocks from my apartment on La Séptima, a major street in my neighborhood.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Viva Colombia!

It was the last soccer game of this year for Colombia and against Argentina, an unbeaten team in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers and ranked as the best in the world by FIFA. Let me make it clear, I’m not a soccer fan. However, given the chance to see some of the world’s best players is something I appreciate in any sport. So that is why I sacrificed for yesterday’s game at El Campín in Bogotá.

Sacrifice? Yes, let me elaborate. I had to wait two hours in line to buy a ticket on Monday. Granted, it was the middle of the day when most people are working. For yesterday’s game I was told to arrive early ... four hours early. This sounds extreme, but it’s true. When I arrived at four in the afternoon, half of the stadium was already full. And since there are no assigned seats, you have to arrive ridiculously early to claim a decent one. Actually, this isn’t exactly true. El Campín is a small stadium considering it’s in the capital of a soccer-crazed country, and virtually every seat is good. I found a seat in the second row. I was actually excited about this game. Maybe it’s the camaraderie of sports. Maybe it was the promise of a blue sky and bright sun. I bought a yellow Colombia jersey at the stadium and talked with two guys sitting next to me. They were your typical super fans, knowing each player’s talents and mother’s maiden name. They were friendly. Most people are. Part of this has to do with the fact that I was probably the only American at the game. I say this with seriousness. Anyhow, it had been gorgeous weather all day. In Bogotá, that means little. After arriving, it began to rain ... and rain ... and rain. It poured for a good two hours. I thought to myself, I waited in line for two hours and now I arrived four hours early for this shit?

It cleared, however, an hour before game time. Throughout the rain spell, fans chanted for Colombia while they beat plastic noisemakers together despite an empty field. It was a big game. Colombia had not beaten Argentina since 1993. In the first half it looked as if this trend would continue. Despite Argentina playing with only 10 players (One Argentinean player received a red card for tripping a Colombian player away from the ball halfway through the first half.) it led 1-0 at intermission. Before the game I had told the guy next to me that I thought Colombia was going to win 2-1, and reminded him of my premonition. I should have placed a bet, but I don’t bet on sports. Colombia scored on a free shot and a fast break in the second half to make me look like a genius. I didn’t know a whole lot about either team, but I had this feeling that Colombia would win, and whenever I get this feeling it comes true virtually every time. I have to admit that I had a great time at the game. The quality of play and the excitement is contagious. The fans used a lot of foul language, of which a few words I have added to my vocabulary. Of all these words, hijueputas was used the most, which in English means sonsofbitches. Every time the Argentinean goalkeeper had a free kick, the entire stadium yelled this word in unison. It was funny. Though if I had a young child, I might think twice before bringing him or her to a game. There weren’t many Argentineans present, but a young woman in an Argentinean uniform decided to stand near where I was sitting at halftime. She was called every name in the book, and some fans threw objects at her. One guy near me threw a half-eaten sandwich at her and hit someone else in the head. Despite this ruckus, there were no fights. I don’t think you’d want to get in a fight. The whole place had security guards, normal police, and riot police.

After the game ended the streets and sidewalks were clogged near the stadium. People beeped their horns to Let’s Go Colombia, and waved flags with pride. With the win, Colombia is ranked in second, behind Argentina despite last night’s game, in the South American World Cup qualifiers. Today I asked a friend of mine what would happen if Colombia won the World Cup in 2010 in South Africa. She said that it would be a disaster as it is not prepared for this. For now, Colombians can relish their victory, and as for me, I’m not placing any bets.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My Room (In Bogota)

I’ve lived in some of the best and worst of places. When I was going to college in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, I lived in an apartment that had a washer and dryer, leather sofas, big-screen television, a stereo-system built for clubs, and an all-glass, lobby rooftop. Since then I’ve lived quite modestly. After college, I moved to Aspen, Colorado, where I need not go into details so as to not scare my parents if they’re reading this. But I can say that the first room I rented had a queen-sized bed that touched three walls and took up half my room. Then I moved to the Cortina, a 16-room housing complex for employees at the Hotel Jerome. It was a block from the hotel and rent included all utilities for a whopping $183 a month, and probably the best deal in America considering the real estate prices in downtown Aspen are only for the super-rich and famous. Nevertheless, it was the “ghetto” of Aspen. I had no kitchen. I had to climb a ladder to get to my bed and would bump my head if I sat up.

However, it did pay off, literally. I then moved to Chicago, where I lived on State Street, just a short walk to Oak Street Beach, in the Gold Coast neighborhood. It was a pretentious neighborhood. The Playboy Mansion used to be just a block away. Oprah and other famous people owned places there. I lived on the 14th floor with a few of the Hancock Building and Lake Michigan. I moved two more times in Chicago, in average apartments near Wrigley Field.

Now, I’m in Chapinero, Bogota’s equivalent of the Gold Coast in Chicago. I live in a studio on the second floor with a few of the mountains. I’m on La Septima, a main road that is just a few minutes by bus to downtown. And the popular supermarket Carulla is just a block away. Dare say that I’m paying nearly double what many other foreign English teachers pay. My studio apartment is nice. My only complaint is that I don’t have an oven or stove. But hey, I’ve had worse.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Five Good Reasons to Like Colombia

There are many reasons to like Colombia, from the coffee grown in Eje Cafetero to the Spanish spoken in Bogota to the Salt Cathedral in Zipaquirá. However, below are five very good reasons to like Colombia....

Above are the five finalists for this year's Miss Colombia pageant, which took place yesterday in Cartagena.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Monserrate Revisited . . . At Night

“On no account walk down in the dark. It is best not to go alone. On weekdays, it is not recommended to walk up and especially not down. You should also take a bus or taxi to the foot of the hill Monday-Friday and, at all times, from the bottom station into town.”
Footprint South American Handbook on climbing Monserrate

I have to admit it. I’m very stubborn, sometimes to a fault. I’m like the kid whose parents tell him not to touch the stove and then he goes and does it anyway and gets burned. Then again, if I listened to everyone, I probably wouldn’t be in Colombia right now.

But now here I am, yesterday morning, gazing up at a beautiful and rare cloudless sky. It’s the rainy season. I’m thinking to myself, wow, what a great day to go for a hike, only I’ve been up all night partying and have a tremendous urge to sleep. Go for a hike or sleep? Naturally, I did both, resting until early afternoon and then forcing myself to climb Monserrate, the most famous mountain-peak in Bogota located at the edge of downtown. There is a cable car or funicular railway to the top. Not my style.

On the hike up, the stone pathway was crowded with Colombian families, most of whom were headed downward. Because it was a holiday weekend, virtually every small shack or stand was open selling food or knit-knacks. The top is very serene and peaceful. It seems like a different world from the constant sound of buses shifting gears and cars honking that permeate throughout the city. It’s a great little hike too, about an hour and 20 minutes, and just strenuous enough for a good workout. I’ve wanted to go more often, but due to bad weather and a busy schedule I’ve only made the trek twice.

I waited until the sun set and it was dark before I began walking down, which everyone advises otherwise. However, it was a most enjoyable time going down the dark path and looking at millions of white lights below. I had the entire path to myself. The only people I saw were the half dozen or so families that lived in small shacks next to the mountain’s path. They greeted me with smiles and seemed happy that I passed by. It was silent except for the faint sound of Vallenato music in the distance and an occasional automobile honking. When I reached the bottom, I walked alone down the dark, desolate streets into town where I hopped on a bus and headed home.

I believe there’s something to be said for listening to the advice of others. There’s also something to be said for trusting your gut and enjoying the moment.

For more on Monserrate, please visit an old blog I wrote or view my photos.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Bad Year for Great American Writers

In April it was Kurt Vonnegut. Less than two weeks later it was David Halberstam. Today it is Norman Mailer.

Of these three great American writers who passed away this year, Mailer was probably the one who evoked the most emotions from people as he was anything but politically correct. Yet he enjoyed politics and he had many endearing traits, as did Halberstam and Vonnegut. I believe Halberstam was the greatest non-fiction writer of the second-half of the twentieth century. Just before he died, Vonnegut was perhaps the greatest living novelist.

Mailer, on the hand, doesn’t quite fit into any single category. He wrote newspaper and magazine stories, screenplays, non-fiction books, and was a film director, too. It was his ambition that I most admire. Of the 30 books he wrote, 12 were fiction and 18 were non-fiction. I never read any of his fiction. I did read The Fight, Mailer’s account of the “Rumble in Jungle,” when Muhammad Ali knocked out George Foreman in Zaire for the heavyweight title. Though he was a great observer and extremely intelligent, Mailer liked to be involved in the action. He enjoyed boxing, arguing, and marched with the Vietnam protestors in Washington, D.C. He ran for mayor of New York. He also, drank, smoke, and almost fatally stabbed his second wife after drinking too much at a party. He married six times and had nine children. Despite all this, he was a disciplined writer. And though he won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, he never did write the great American novel he so desperately wanted to. Nevertheless, Mailer died today, joining Vonnegut and Halberstam. And while all three were intellectuals of note, it was Mailer’s passion for life that I most admire. For interviewing people and sitting at your desk and writing is only one aspect of living. Mailer embraced so many other aspects as well, even if many didn’t approve. But he didn’t care. He liked himself. No, he loved himself, sometimes to the point of narcissism. One of his most famous magazine stories was titled, “Ego.” But it was his confidence and passion that made him the superb writer he was, and more importantly, the great man he was.

Miss Colombia

November is a big month. My brother and good family friend are turning 30. College basketball begins. And best of all, it’s time to decide who is the next Miss Colombia. The pageant is held around November 11 each year in Cartagena, a resort city on the Caribbean coast. Unlike the United States, they are not shy down here about showing off the candidates. In fact, the pageant and its contestants are one of the main features in Bogota’s biggest newspaper El Tiempo. My vote is for Gloria Patricia Pérez Peñuela, who is from a region near Cartagena called Sucre. No one has ever won the contest from this region. I also read that she studies business management in Bogota. On the other hand, I hope she loses so I can console her. After all, it’s not good enough just to look good. You have to win. Miss Colombia 2006, pictured below, thought she might have got snubbed at the Miss Universe pageant because of her country’s reputation for drugs and violence. Only one Colombian, in 1958, won the Miss Universe pageant. I guess there’s politics in everything, even beauty.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Looking For History

A master. . . . The countries of Latin America now have their Orwell.
~ David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker

David Remnick makes a bold claim in regards to Mexican-born author and journalist Alma Guillermoprieto. However, I recently enjoyed rereading a collection of her stories on Colombia in Looking For History, a book I had read for a class during my undergraduate years at the UNC-Chapel Hill. She tells history like a thorough journalist, and cuts to the heart of the matter without being politically correct. Though her essays focus on the violence associated with cocaine and guerrillas, it is a different world from the Bogota that I live in now. When I mentioned this book to a student of mine from Medellin, the stopping grounds for notorious drug dealer Pablo Escobar, she said there never was a war in Colombia. She said she never felt threatened or worried.

The truth is that cocaine is grown and produced in the countryside, where guerrilla troops live in virtual isolation. There are two sides that have created what many journalists and politicians call a “civil war” or “war on drugs.” On the far left are guerrilla organizations, such as the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, or FARC. On the far right is the paramilitary organizations and some members of the army. Both groups have committed human rights atrocities, such as kidnappings and murders. The fact of the matter, Guillermoprieto brings to light, is that the United States is a big contributor of these violations. But she doesn’t make the U.S. a scapegoat for the causes and problems that has plagued Colombia in recent history.

In one paragraph, here’s how and why Colombia has such a bad international reputation. The guerrilla groups originated in the countryside to fight for justice and equality. They believed in socialism. By 1980, cocaine became the drug of choice in the U.S. Meeting this high demand, “Colombia had found what most developing countries lack, a cheap crop that can produce the levels of employment, return on investment, and national growth that only industrial goods normally provide.... By the end of the decade the illegal manufacture and export of cocaine had ... accounted for 5 percent of the Colombian national product...” (Note: Cultivation of coca cultivation had declined in Bolivia and Peru at this time while it soared in Colombia.) Farmers were earning more money, but they needed protection for the illegal coca crop. The FARC guerrillas protected them from the government’s antidrug patrols. For the protection they provided, the FARC charged everyone taxes in these coca-growing regions, and taxed the distributors of cocaine to the U.S. Thus, they earned hundreds of millions of dollars. The cocaine distributors helped supply the guerrillas with serious weapons, according to one theory. Nevertheless, the guerrillas had big enough guns that the government couldn’t take away their power. On the other side, the paramilitaries, such as the AUC, rely on the drug money for guns and equipment. The FARC also used kidnapping as a source of money through extortion. At certain checkpoints, guerillas set up roadblocks, stalling passengers for hours, or days. “Civilians will be allowed through only if a quick search through a computer database shows that their bank accounts are too small to qualify them as ‘kidnappable’.” (Thus, I have virtually no chance of being kidnapped.) The guerrillas, however, kidnapped some of the wrong people. They kidnapped family members of drug dealers. Bad mistake. In 1981, when they kidnapped the father of a small-time drug dealer named Carlos Castaño, the paramilitary group AUC was subsequently formed based on revenge. Many farmers and citizens in the countryside have supported the AUC because they have become tired of being taxed and threatened by the FARC. However, paramilitary groups like the AUC have included members of the national army, and have caused more human rights violations than the left-wing guerrilla groups they have been fighting. It is the U.S. that has supplied billions of dollars in foreign aid for better weapons to the Colombian army, which is linked and often involved in the kidnapping, torturing, and killing of ordinary civilians. While many lives have been lost, there are many people profiting from the cocain industry. Thus with the lucrative money involved no group has been willing to relinquish its stake in it.

Guillermoprieto cites journalist German Castro Cayedo about the cause and habitual cycle of violence in Colombia, “Manuel Marulanda joined the Liberal guerrillas [as a youth, in the early days of the Violencia] because his family was getting killed; the founder of the ELN, Fabio Vazquez Castano, started that guerrilla group because his father was killed. And Carlos Castano [no relation; the leader of the bloody antiguerrilla autodefensas, or paramilitaries] got into violence because his father was kidnapped and killed by the FARC!” And the author adds, “None of these crimes were ever brought to court, and the list of children with murdered parents could go on forever, because, in Colombia, justice works poorly when it works at all.”

There are a lot of paradoxes in Colombia. Although it has the oldest democracy in Latin America, citizens were not allowed to elect their own mayors until 1988. Though beauty contests are popular and females in sports are a rarity, an estimated 30 percent of the guerrillas are females. In 2000, Guillermoprieto traveled to FARC headquarters for the second time. She had traveled to its headquarters in Casa Verde, outside Bogota, in 1986, where she spoke with its founder Manuel Marulanda. Her 2000 trip was at its new headquarters in the small town of San Vincente del Caguán. There, she met a 17-year-old female FARC member who told her about adapting to life in the jungle at age 12, isolated and indefinitely away from her family, “There were so many of us children. It wasn’t like our mother had time to baby us.... maybe if I’d been some middle-class momma’s girl ... maybe if I hadn’t been of campesino origins, I would have suffered. But I was so used to hard work that what I had to go through felt easy.” Contraceptives are distributed and promoted in FARC camps. However, if a female guerrilla becomes pregnant, the baby will be sent immediately after birth to her grandparents home. Why would any woman want a life like this? Nora, the liaison with the public then, gave the author the patent, often-told answer, “It is because there is so much injustice in Colombia, and one has to struggle against it.”

Since Looking For History was published in 2001, there have been a lot of improvements in Colombia’s economy and safety, especially in cities like Bogota. Since he took office in 2002, President Alvaro Uribe has taken a hard military stance against the guerillas and paramilitary organizations like FARC and the AUC. He still has many critics, more among the poor than the rich, but is currently serving his second four-year term. Even though many Americans don’t believe me, I am telling the truth when I say I feel as safe in Bogota as I did living in Chicago. It’s in certain areas of the countryside and jungle where the real danger lurks. Thus, don’t believe what you hear in newspapers or on television. Colombia, overall, is a very safe and interesting country to live in or visit.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Salt Cathedral

Zipaquirá is not a big town. It has about 65,000 residents, and lies 25 kilometers north of the Bogota border. While it has an attractive town plaza made of brick with large palm trees and a beautiful old church, there is one reason it is one of the most visited places in Colombia: the Salt Cathedral.

Yesterday, I took two buses with my friend Maria to see this major tourist attraction. I had high expectations and it didn’t disappoint me. Inside a large green hill on the edge of town is a rock salt mine that has been in use for centuries. The current cathedral was opened on Dec. 16, 1995, according to the Footprint South American Handbook. The previous underground cathedral had closed because it was unsafe.

To me, the current salt cathedral is one of the modern eight wonders of the world. I’ve been inside the Great Pyramid in Egypt, and this cathedral was every bit as impressive in its own unique way. The first thing I noticed was the lighting. There were 14 rooms, or chambers, each with a cross sculpted by a different artist and illuminated with white or black lights. Because the cave passageways were hardly lit, the crosses stood out in stark contrast.

As I continued to walk, I realized how incredibly enormous this mine shaft was. According to the Bogota newspaper El Tiempo, it is 8,500 meters. While there was a long line to enter, inside the cathedral was so big that I could always find a solitary section to enjoy it and take photos. Beyond the distinct crosses, about 200 meters underground, was a giant cross illuminated against the wall in white light. In front of it was an altar with rows and rows of wooden pews. There were also intricately-carved angels and biblical figures throughout the cathedral. Next to the section with the giant cross, was another section with clumps of white salt stuck to a colossal-sized wall. I touched it and licked my finger.

For more information on the Salt Cathedral, you can go to wikipedia or the government site.

Weird Weather

A few days after I arrived in Bogota, the first ever tornado swept through the outskirts of the city. No one was hurt, but it was a freak occurrence.

Yesterday was just as odd as the worst hailstorm in 30 years left cars floated or submerged among pieces of ice, basements flooded, and ceilings leaky. This storm was most powerful in the center of the city, on Calle 26 and Avenida Caracas. In my neighborhood it just rained a lot with a little hail mixed in. It didn’t seem out of the ordinary. From mid-September until mid-December is the rainy season, or winter in Bogota. The hail that fell on Calle 26 was anything but ordinary as seen in the photos below and videos below. However, the drainage system wasn’t sufficient enough to handle the water, hail, and ice. From what I’ve read, the streets department is somewhat to blame. Nevertheless, mother nature irate. During a traffic jam cars became trapped and some people escaped through their windows, walking in chest-high water. Some people suffered hypothermia. Hard to believe this is possible on the streets of Bogota. The funny thing is that when I woke up it was sunny and hot outside. However, meteorologists say that morning humidity helps creates hailstorms. Go figure. I’m just glad I wasn’t driving.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Esta Vida

"No South American country has a greater variety of music than Colombia, strategically placed where the Andes meet the Caribbean," says the Footprint South American Handbook. Although Bogota natives, or Rolos, enjoy salsa, merengue, and reggaeton like most of Latin America, slower, sentimental music is a fixture around the country’s capitol. However, certain songs or musicians are popular throughout the country. One of those songs is Esta Vida by Jorge Celedon and Jimmy Zambrano. These musicians specialize in vallenato music, which is popular in Colombia’s Caribbean coast. The principal instrument of this music is the accordion, which Zambrano plays while Celedon sings. One night this week I heard Esta Vida blaring from the speakers of a bar near my apartment. The song was still playing when I passed by a half hour later. It’s a happy song that personifies the spirit of many Colombians: they love their friends and family, they love to party, and they love life. I have included the music video and lyrics below so you can have a better understanding of this.

Esta Vida
Jorge Celedon & Jimmy Zambrano

Me gusta el olor que tiene la mañana
I like the scent that the morning has
Me gusta el primer traguito de café
I like the first sip of coffee
Sentir como el sol se asoma en mi ventana
To feel as the sun appears in my window
Y me llena la mirada de un hermoso amanecer.
And gives me a full view of a beautiful sunrise.

Me gusta escuchar la paz de las montañas
I like to listen to the peace of the mountains
Mirar los colores del atardecer
To look at the colors at dusk
Sentir en mis pies la arena de la playa
To feel in my feet the sand of the beach
Y lo dulce de la caña cuando beso a mi mujer.
And it's like sweetness from the cane when I kiss my woman.

Sé, se que el tiempo lleva prisa pa’ borrarme de la lista
I know, that as time passes in a hurry it erases my list
Pero yo le digo que....
But I tell it that....

Aaaaaay, que bonita es esta vida
Ooooooh, that this life is pretty
Aunque a veces duela tanto
Although at times so much grief
Y a apesar de lo pesares
And despite its weight on you
Siempre hay alguien que nos quieres
There is always someone that wants us
Siempre hay alguien que nos cuida.
There is always someone that takes care of us.
Ay ay ay aaaaaay, que bonita es esta vida
Oh oh oh ooooooh, that this life is pretty
Y aunque no sea para siempre
And although it won't last forever
Si la vivo con mi gente es bonita hasta la muerte
If I live it with my people it's pretty until death
Con aguardiente y tequila.
With aguardiente and tequila.

¡Brindemos por la vida, es linda!
Let's drink to life, it's beautiful!
¡Quiérela! ¡Quiérela!
Love it! Love it!

Me gusta escuchar la voz de una guitarra
I like to listen to the voice of a guitar
Brindar por aquel amigo que se fue
To make a toast for my friend that is gone
Sentir el abrazo de la madrugada
To embrace the early morning
Y llenarme la mirada de otro hermoso amanecer.
As it gives me a full view of another beautiful sunrise.