Little things

It’s always the little things that remind me of the little “luxuries” we take for granted. One of these is a water heater. Usually these heaters come with your house or apartment. Here, that is not a given, and that brings us to a tangent about stratification.

Here stratification, unlike the US, is officially implemented. It was started in the 80s and formalized in 1994 by the Utility Company. Basically it makes the people who live in nicer places pay more for utilities than the people who live in the poorer neighborhoods. So, obviously your stratum reflects your salary since that is how much you’d be willing to pay. This stratification also delimits the “luxuries” (finishings such as cabinets, floor, windows, etc.) an apartment or house can have and the type of material it is built with. In total there are 6 strata (in % of population):

  1. 9.3% earn less than a minimum monthly salary (MMS) of about $200USD
  2. 42.7% earn between 1 and 3 MMS $200-600
  3. 30.2% earn between 3 and 5 MMS $600-1000
  4. 9.1% earn between 5 and 8 MMS $1000-1600
  5. 3.7% earn between 8 and 16 MMS $1600-3200
  6. 1.2% earn more than 16 MMS $3200
As you can see, the majority of the population is concentrated between strata 2 and 3, which would correspond to lower class and lower middle class. Not so good.
The map of the city divided by stratum looks like this:

Strata 1 and 2 are basically in the south and also the outskirts of the city at the foot of the mountains, 5 and 6 are in the north (remember here we think of north to the left) and 3 and 4 are in the middle.

Now that we’ve got that sorted out we can continue the story about water heaters. Living in stratum 3 it turns out, does not qualify you for a water heater. You must be wondering how we live without hot water. Well, we don’t: for those of us not rich enough to live in strata 4, 5 or 6 there are Electric Shower Heaters! Behold:

This little guy has saved us from very, very cold mornings, although you can’t turn the shower on all the way because it can’t heat the water that fast (you’ll just get cold water again).

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4 Responses to Little things

  1. syd says:

    sidenote: there is still a misleading “hot” water tap-thing in the shower, but it does nothing. :(

  2. jessi says:

    wait a minute guys… this post says North is to the left, but syd seems to think it’s to the right in the post before. this is terribly misleading for those of us currently attempting to live vicariously through your colombian adventure. clarification would be the polite thing to do, i think. you know, for the readers.

    • syd says:

      sorry that is confusing yes, in the map I used for that post North IS to the right, however I have been corrected that it is more common to think of North as to the left, so that’s why it’s that way in this map. why north can’t be up I don’t know D:

      • Manu says:

        Sorry Jessi, I can imagine the confusion. The reason we here think of north to the left is that we orient ourselves by the Cerros, which are the group of mountains on the east. That may not seem like a legit enough answer, but it’s just one of those things. “North is just a direction, it’s not up” quote by Syd. Ok, fine you know what I don’t really know why east is up.

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