Friday, May 18, 2012

Calefon update

I came home on Monday to see our new water heater installed!  The new system operates automatically on electricity, we didn't have an extension cord so for the first two days this jerry-rigged system worked.

My first truly warm shower in MONTHS was amazing.  I went to bed so warm for the first time in a long time.

Final note -- we replaced the multiple extensions cords with a 10-meter cable.  Should be all good.

This will work for now.
"Management is not responsible for any electrical injuries incurred."

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Four-Wheelin' in the Dunes

My buddy Manuel invited me out to do some four-wheeling yesterday.  He told me he'd pick me up at 8:45, and in a very un-Chilean fashion my phone rang at 8:45 with him outside my apartment (I thought I'd have at least 15 more minutes to wake up).

We made our way south and west, stopped at a gas station to meet the other "Jeeperos" from the four-wheeling club.  As the group grew we then pressed on to the coast, to just south of San Antonio, where we would find our sandy dune destination for the day.

We stopped in the pebbles on the beach to drop the air pressure in the tires - down to 10 psi for traction.  We moved onward and progressed through a woodsy area and on into the dunes, where we climbed some steep inclines and did some general exploring.

For lunch we stopped at a large opening and grilled various meats over the coals. We shared stories and ate various meats before we headed off again, did some more climbing, exploring and engine-fixing.  We followed the path back to the beach where we re-filled the tires and headed back to Santiago.  Only one car casualty for the day, Patricio had to be towed back home.

My friend Manuel invited me out for the trip. 
Getting the group -- they're called "Jeeperos de Chile" -- ready.
Making our way onto the beach.
Drop the air pressure from 30 psi to 10 psi, more traction on the sand.
Starting off.
Weaving through the trees.
This guy caught a bit of wood between the tire and the rim.  No problem, it got removed a bit later in the day.
Our first bit of climbing practice.
This guy's second try to the top.
Some motorcyclists tried out some jumps as we repaired one of the Jeeps.
Black sand.
Sand is a good exfoliator and grease remover.
Mid-day asado.

La parilla.
Someone brought cuchuflĂ­, a traditional sweet dessert.
It's a bit of dough filled with manjar (dulce de leche).
More climbing practice.
Exploring the dunes.
Another, a fan and water pump breakage.
A bit of a bad spot.....better get the tow straps.
Working the tow straps.
Pulled out, no problem.
Re-pump the tires.
The only casualty for the day -- a quick tow back to Santiago.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Waterheater Replacement!

We're getting a new waterheater in the apartment today.  This may not seem like a very big deal, but the water heater situation here in Chile is a bit different than in most of the US.

The waterheater (or "calefon") we have now is a manual setup, that you have to light with a match when you want hot water.  After lighting the flame blasts strong when you turn on the hot water, and the water flowing through the pipes is then heated.  It's quite a thing to see the blue flame flaring up when the hot water is flowing.

This system is great, as the only water that is heated is the water that you use -- and when you have gas in the canister and remember where the matches are, of course.  If you don't have either of those, be prepared for a cold shower.

My roommate and I, for the past few months now, have been surviving on lukewarm showers because our calefon just isn't working right.  Now that the fall/winter is approaching and the temperatures have dropped this temperature problem is becoming a nuisance ("mis huevos se están congelando!" -- go on and translate that).  So, my roommate Rulo finally made the move to replacing the setup.

The new calefon is an automatic setup, so no matches will be required for its use.  It will definitely be a great convenience, however I know I'll always feel a bit of nostalgia for those dark winter mornings, when I crawled into the kitchen to frantically search for matches to give me a warm shower.

UPDATE: It's Sunday and the new water heater still hasn't been installed.  The installation team came on Friday and Saturday, and both times they didn't have the correct parts.  This kind of service is so Chilean!  I took a damn cold shower last night.
The calefon, in the kitchen behind the sink.
You've got to find your matches.  Here they are, the rare occassion they are easy to find..

Flip the....

....lever on the gas canister.
We fortunately have a few backups.

Move the dial to "encendido," press down, then stick the match into the opening above... light the flame.
Rotate the dial to your desired setting and you're good to go.
The flame under use.
Our new calefon, just before installation.  Although the name "Junkers" would not fly in an English-speaking country, it's one of the best brands of calefones.