How to take a Shower in Chile (with some Famous Chileans and make-believe swearing)

So an important aspect of living somewhere and getting along with the locals is not stinkin’ up the joint with your smelly people odors. Another important aspect is knowing a little bit of the cultural history, such as notable historical figures. To save time, I’ve combined the two. Presenting:


In which I pretend to curse but actually use the names of notable Chileans from history. You can click their names to view their Wikipedia pages, or I’ve tabled them below for quick reference.

  1. Light the Michelle Bachelet-ing heater.
    1. Unlike in most of the United States, the water heaters (or calefón) in Chile are lit by hand as opposed to being always lit, to save on gas which is very expensive. Usually the calefón is mounted on the wall in the kitchen, but in some older homes it may be in the bathroom. This is a Francisca Valenzuela terrible idea because they can emit carbon monoxide if not ventilated properly. But if it is in the kitchen or similar open space, there’s no problem!

This is our calefón, lit and ready to heat my water!

    1. To light the actual calefón, you adjust a slider and hold down the button to let some gas build up. Then you usually press another button to create an electric spark, but ours is broken so we use matches. Once the little flame inside is lit, you adjust the slider to how hot you want the water. For dishes or clothes it only needs to be a little warm, but for this shower you want it Joaquín Toesca hot, so slide that little Bernardo O’Higgins all the way over!
  1. Get your stinky Arturo Prat in the shower!
    1. Now you´re going to need to hurry the Snooki up (Yes, unfortunately I did say Snooki. Turns out she’s actually not Italian, but Chilean). Because utilities such as gas and water are so Gabriela Mistral expensive, it’s best to keep showers brief.
  2. Dry your Quintrala off, put on some clothes, and turn off the Luis Pardo calefón.
  3. Don’t forget to hang up your Violeta Parra towel to air dry, since electricity for the dryer is also expensive!

I hope that you found these directions to be informative and amusing. I couldn’t think of any other way to make directions for using a water heater more interesting. Here is a list of the famous Chileans I listed for your enjoyment

Name Dates of birth/death Famous For…
Michelle Bachelet September 29, 1951- First female President of Chile
Francisca Valenzuela March 17, 1987- Chilean-American singer/songwriter
Joaquín Toesca 1745-
June 11, 1799
Architect who designed the Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral and the presidential palace, el Palacio de la Moneda
Bernardo O’Higgins August 20, 1778-
October 24, 1842
Considered one of the founding fathers of modern Chile.
Arturo Prat April 3, 1848-
May 21, 1879
Navy officer, considered a national hero and appears on the 10,000 peso bill.
Snooki November 23, 1987- Born in Santiago and adopted by Italian-American parents, famous for being the first Chilean Oompa Loompa to escape from custody.
Gabriela Mistral April 7, 1889-
January 10, 1957
First Latin American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, currently appears on the 5,000 peso bill.
La Quintrala 1604 – 1665 Aristocratic landowner, noted for her extreme cruelty, accused and tried for over 40 murders.
Luis Pardo September 20, 1882-
February 21, 1935
Captain of the ship that rescued the survivors of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s failed Antarctica expedition.
Violeta Parra October 4, 1917-
February 5, 1967
Internationally well-known folk singer