Tag: heating


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..

bottled gas, uruguay
O frabjous day. Callooh. Callay.


Crazy gringo burns curupay as firewood

We inherited a piece of curupay lumber when we moved here. A meter long, perhaps 2″x3″, it weighs much more than any unsuspecting person would imagine. Curupay is used for beams, and though it has about the highest heat output of any wood here, its price is such that you’d be crazy to burn it. Unless, of course, you happen to have had incompetent local aluminum door installers destroy your floor and the frame of the wooden door they removed.

curupay wood

The pieces have sat, undisturbed, in our carport for a very long time. I tried cutting one with our crappy little German circular saw, which basically burned its way through the board, but my new table saw zipped right through them.

curupay board burning in wood stove

This is what just one of those pieces looks like burning. I’m scared to put in more than one piece. You can feel the heat across the room. Especially nice on a cold day like today, in a typically uninsulated Uruguay house.


Need firewood? Go away.


When we got our first wood stove, I saw several places on very busy roads, with massive piles of firewood (leña), apparently for sale, unattended, and no way to contact the seller. Surely they would paint a phone number on the wall, at least?

After a few years here, despite some excellently run local businesses, the simple act of procuring materials often seems like a game of “catch me if you can.” Still, I think might suggest a sign if I meet the owner:

Marketing in Uruguay

Ñuke: wretched Argentinian wood stove

We recently bought a new Chilean wood stove with a five year guarantee.

It replaces the poorly designed, ugly, poorly built Argentinian Ñuke (great name, eh?) that we have had two and half years.

With its top removed, you can see (lower arrow) an air channel for secondary combustion that was completely filled with rust flakes, and (top arrow) a triangular air tube whose top was almost completely rusted off. I bought fire bricks in a local supply yard to replace the ones the Ñuke chimney cleaner broke and never replaced.

We’ll probably find a use for this in the campo now that we’ve finally taken possession of our farm land and remarkable little house (more to follow).

Speaking of which, I’m thinking of writing a(nother) book: 14 Acres and No Clue.