Electricity tends to be expensive in Uruguay, and most people where we live use gas, called “supergas,” for cooking. It’s not a good choice for heating, since it adds humidity, which, combined with temperature, is a fine recipe for unhealthy mold growth. For that reason, we chose to ignore the gas plumbing in the incomplete house we bought, and instead deal with the regular replenishment of garafas (carafes? um, thanks Google Translate).
Which replenishment has been an issue of late, because whoever delivers or refills or produces these things has apparently been on strike. I really don’t care which. Despite being pretty conversant in the language, one plus of living here (as when I lived in West Germany in the 1980s) is that a lot of (verbal/propaganda) nuance escapes me. I’m not big on “news.”
Anyway, turns out we have a lot of them, these steel pressurized containers.
The reason why is a little interesting. We bought a house with a casita (little house) for our 22-year-old son to occupy. We bought a gas heater, not trusting him (wisely) to restrain himself with electric heat which, given our “intelligent option” from UTE, the government electric company, basically triples the electric rate at peak times — 5PM-11PM, when residential heat is really nice in the winter — but makes it relatively cheap to operate an electric clothes dryer, which we really like, the other 19 hours of the day. So we needed another garafa. Then, some rather strange Americans — oy vey, whole other story — were selling shit, including several garafas for USD 50. At a time when a “new” (bear with me) garafa cost more like USD 75-80. No brainer. Why this idiot woman wouldn’t simply sell them back to the supplier baffled me. But hey.
OK (you’ve now borne), turns out you can “buy” these garafas, but you can’t sell them back. In other words, you can’t waltz into your local gas dealer, say, thanks, it’s been great, but I’m leaving and want my money back.
You’ve purchased the right to exchange gas tanks ad infinitum. You don’t actually own a specific tank, as we did in Mexico when my son got into glasswork. You own this right to exchange that which you cannot sell.
And now you barely have the ability to exchange. Hence, I feel great accomplishment that I went to Parque del Plata Norte and Marindia (opposite directions) this morning and came home with this: two exchanged 13 kg gas bottles..