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Song: El Niágara En Bicicleta (+ Vocabulary) Posted by on Mar 30, 2022 in Music, Spanish Culture

Today’s blog post is a listening practice. Sing along this song written and performed by the Dominican cantautor (singer-songwriter) Juan Luís Guerra. If you read my post on the of rhythms Latin America, you will recognize that this song belongs in the music genre merengue. This canción (song) is very popular in the Spanish-Speaking world since the late 90’s.

Letra (lyrics)

Me dio una sirimba un domingo en la mañana
cuando menos lo pensaba
I fainted one Sunday morning
when I was least expecting it
Caí redondo, como una guanábana, sobre la alcantarilla
I fell in a heap, like a soursop fruit, over the sewer grate
Será la presión o me ha subido la bilirrubina
Maybe it’s my blood pressure, or maybe my bilirubin went up
Y me entró la calentura
And I got a fever
Y me fui poniendo blanco como bola de naftalina
And I started turning white, like a mothball
Me llevaron a un hospital de gente (supuestamente)
They took me to a hospital for people (supposedly)
En la emergencia, el recepcionista escuchaba la lotería
(“¡30 000 pesos!”)
In the emergency room, the receptionist was listening to the lottery numbers
(“thirty thousand pesos!”)
“¡Alguien se apiade de mi!”
Grité perdiendo el sentido
“Someone have mercy of me!”
I shouted losing consciousness
Y una enfermera se acercó a mi oreja y me dijo:
“Tranquilo, Bobby, tranquilo”
And a nurse came up and whispered in my ear:
“Calm down, Bobby, calm down”
Me acarició con sus manos de Ben Gay y me dijo:
“¿Qué le pasa, atleta?”
She stroked me with her hands like Ben Gay and said:
“What happens to you, athlete?”
Y le conté con lujo de detalles lo que me había sucedido
and I told her, with a wealth of detail, what had happened to me.
“Hay que chequearte la presión,
pero la sala está ocupada y, mi querido,
en este hospital no hay luz para un electrocardiograma”
“We need to check your blood pressure,
but the room is occupied, and, my dear,
in this hospital there’s no power for an electrocardiogram”
Abrí los ojos como luna llena y me agarré la cabeza 
I opened my eyes like a full moon and I grabbed my head
Porque es muy duro
pasar el Niágara en bicicleta
Because it’s very hard
to cross the Niagara on a bicycle
No me digan que los médicos se fueron (oh-oh-oh)
Don’t tell me the doctors left
No me digan que no tienen anestesia (oh-oh-oh)
Don’t tell me they don’t have anesthesia
No me digan que el alcohol se lo bebieron (oh-oh-oh)
Don’t tell me they drank the rubbing alcohol
Y que el hilo de coser
fue bordado en un mantel
And that the thread for stitches
was embroidered into a tablecloth
No me digan que las pinzas se perdieron (oh-oh-oh)
Don’t tell me they lost the forceps
Que el estetoscopio está de fiesta (oh-oh-oh)
That the stethoscope is out partying
Que los rayos X se fundieron (oh-oh-oh)
That the X-rays melted
Y que el suero ya se usó
para endulzar el café
That the serum was already used
to sweeten the coffee
Me apoyé de sus hombros como un cojo a su muleta
y le dije: “¿qué hago, princesa?”
I leaned on her shoulders like a lame man leans on his crutch
and I said: “What do I do, princess?”
Y en un papel de receta me escribió muy dulcemente:
“Lo siento, atleta”
And on a prescription she wrote very sweetly:
“I’m sorry, athlete”
Me acarició con sus manos de Ben Gay y siguió su destino
She stroked me with her hands like Ben Gay and then went on her way
Y oí claramente cuando dijo a otro paciente:
“Tranquilo, Bobby, tranquilo”
And I clearly heard her say to another patient:
“Calm down, Bobby, calm down”
Bajé los ojos a media asta y me agarré la cabeza
I dropped my eyes to half-mast and I grabbed my head
Porque es muy duro
pasar el Niágara en bicicleta
Because it’s very hard
to cross the Niagara on a bicycle
No me digan que los médicos se fueron (oh-oh-oh)
Don’t tell me the doctors left
No me digan que no tienen anestesia (oh-oh-oh)
Don’t tell me they don’t have anesthesia
No me digan que el alcohol se lo bebieron (oh-oh-oh)
Don’t tell me they drank the rubbing alcohol
Y que el hilo de coser
fue bordado en un mantel
And that the thread for stitches
was embroidered into a tablecloth
No me digan que las pinzas se perdieron (oh-oh-oh)
Don’t tell me they lost the forceps
Que el estetoscopio está de fiesta (oh-oh-oh)
That the stethoscope is out partying
Que los rayos X se fundieron (oh-oh-oh)
That the X-rays melted
Y que el suero ya se usó
para endulzar el café
That the serum was already used
to sweeten the coffee
(El Niágara en bicicleta)
(En bicicleta, oh no)
The Niagara on a bicycle
on a bicycle
No me digan que me va cayendo
de tanto dolor
Don’t tell me I’m falling down
from so much pain
No me digan que las aspirinas
cambian de color
Don’t tell me the aspirins
change color
No me digan que me van pariendo,
que le falta amor
Don’t tell me that they’re trying hard,
that they’re missing love
No me digan que le está latiendo
Oh no
Don’t tell me that it’s throbbing, oh no…
Vocabulary
Pasar el Niágara en bicicleta (to cross the Niagara Falls on a bicycle) is an idiom used in the Dominican Republic to make reference to a difficult task or something very difficult that seems impossible to accomplish.
Atleta (athlete) in this context is used as a dear name.
Sirimba: To feel dizziness, faintness, lightheadedness. This term if often used in Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.
Caer redondo como una guanábana: To fall down abruptly.
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About the Author: Anais

Hello, Spanish learners! My name's Anais. I'm a Venezuelan freelance translator living in Argentina. I'm a culture and language freak and such a big foodie! I'm thrilled to share my language and culture with all of you and, why not?, some recipes of our traditional delights, too. Stay tuned, guys! :-)


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