Monday, November 18, 2013

Belgium Day 357: the land of disappointing appliances

I have probably already told you in person all the jokes about Belgium-Belgiqueistan and it being more developing-nation than developed.  One problem is that it takes 6 steps/appointments to get an ATM card when you open a new bank account.  Another is that the roads are not well maintained and the incessant rain results in horrible potholes.  And the roads are essentially pavement over cobblestone, if not just outright cobblestone.  Cobblestone hurts your car.  And your feet.  It looks cute, but its a disaster in terms of transportation.  The water isn't cleaned the way that it is in the U.S., so hair, showers, laundry, and dishes become calcified quickly.  People have frequent problems with kidney stones here.  It is recommended to drink only bottled water that is imported from afar.  Electrical problems are frequent.  Plugging in appliances results in light bulbs blowing, circuits blowing, etc.  This tends to happen when it is dark/snowy/freezing out so when your electric goes, you must fumble around with 3 fuse boxes in the dark and hope to get the heat back on quickly before you or the plumbing freeze and burst.  

Appliances don't work well.  Microwaving something like a cup of water in the U.S. usually takes 30 seconds- 90 seconds.  Here you need to plan on 3-5 minutes to accomplish the same task.  The convection ovens are crap.  The temperatures aren't nearly as high as the US and basically nothing cooks in the center so you have mush in the middle of whatever you are making.  As a bonus, when you open the oven, you get blasted by hot air which escaped, thus prolonging the cook time for food.  The oven is half the size of one in the U.S., so pans, cookie sheets, and baking dishes according to U.S. specs don't fit inside.  

While I was in Turkey in October, I found out that my rusty dishwasher needed to be replaced, the hot water heater was leaking and needed a valve replaced, and that the washer and dryer were dying.  The dryer is incompetent.  Imagine washing your clothes for a 90 minute cycle.  Now imagine taking that same load of clothes and running it through the dryer 5 or 6 times (2.25 hours per cycle) to try to spin out some of the water saturation. This means a typical load of laundry takes an entire day to accomplish.  A load of laundry might be a single bed sheet, t-shirt/jeans/socks/undies or pj's with a towel.  Awesome.  Remember it rains constantly so there's not a prayer that hanging things to dry will be effective.  My washing machine likes to go on walks.  It's too heavy for me to move without risking injury.  It is really heavy.  And insane.   The appliances, like the house, are provided to me by the military.  I am not supposed to have the cost of replacing them, but I have to wait on a list until a set used by another household becomes available when they rotate back to the U.S.  The man in charge of replacements wants me to pay a fee for the dryer because he believes it is working fine.  I don't want to get arrested, so I refrained from sharing my true thoughts on this topic.  I know someday I will find this predicament to be really funny, but when you are struggling through it is difficult to see the humor of it all.  

No comments:

Post a Comment