Saturday, September 6, 2008

The antique slot machine

So I thought i'd go basic for some of my friends/readers unfamiliar with Chile (which, now that i rethink it, is silly cuz i just swapped URLs on them and nobody has tracked me down again). But the little things are sometimes what make it interesting abroad.

So this is a calefont:

I have narrowed the calefont's main functions down to
a) heating water
b) sucking up all my money
c) causing alarm and worry about my safety

I call it a slot machine because I feel like it's a constant hopeful gamble of investing money, which usually results in a small payoff just big enough to suck you into "playing again." And, antique being...the thing is probably 1.5 times my age. Plus! Since I am gringa, there are always lots of sudden extra charges that accumulate once the calefont repair man arrives at the house and $ee$ me. (sees me, get it? yeah.)
To work it, you turn a lever which allows gas to flow through the pipes, light a match or something and stick it in that hole in front above a pilot thing while sliding the lever below to determine temperature, and then turn on the water. Hopefully, rows of burner looking things next to the pilot light will also shoot up in flames and the water will become hot. Also everytime someone else who shares our piping system turns on the water, the pressure changes and affects the water heating process. Everytime I need to change the temp, I get out of the shower, leave the bathroom, and go change the lever. Sometimes this happens half a dozen times.

As for the safety, at times there are gas leaks, which you can imagine are dangerous. It happens from time to time, even a few years ago a girl studying abroad through the same company as I did actually was killed by a gas leak from one of these things. It is ideal to keep them outside the house, or at least outside the bathroom so its not as confined.

Also, another factor I had never considered before, came (very suddenly) to my attention on Thursday. After taking a shower, the calefont pipes exploded while I was still in the bathroom. I suppose in the end I was thankful, because what I immediately thought was a house intruder with a pistol turned out to be merely split pipes spraying hot water all over my house. But I guess after all that still sounds pretty bittersweet....


Sara said...

Another use:
4. Scaring the shit out of gringas who have to light those frickin things.

Sara said...

oopsie. Maybe I should have said "crap". Too late.

lydia said...

haha. no worries its not censored. seriously. i;ve given in and purchased one of those long things where you just have to pull the trigger for flames, but seriously the times when i have to try it with a match, or worse... light the stove, ignite some piece of paper and sheild it til i get it into the hole (which, takes like 7 tries) those are the lowest point of my calefont tolerance.

actually, twice i have been lucky enough to live places where it was outside and it was never turned off. and another time we had an automatic one where the spark thing was built in. but now its back to old school troubles with this one.

kumichan83 said...

i was just thinking about how hard it is to get a good shower in latin america. these calefont things aren't so bad compared to those electric shower heads that you attach to your shower for warm water. i got electrocuted by those many times in guatemala and brazil.

i am in chile visiting right now and my in laws have a calefont and i realized that in ecuador we are lucky to have a shower with such great water pressure and a constant flow of warm water. i just don't feel clean after bathing with water that dribbles out of the shower head, haha.

kumichan83 said...

hi lydia, i have a question for you. how did you make your blog header? what program did you use? i am just wondering what program i should use just to make a custom blog header with the lettering and all that. no fancy graphics or anything because i am no designer.

let me know if you can. thanks!
ps- i have the whole adobe suite just sitting here on my laptop