Madrid Characters #1 – The Gas Man!

Weird : Quirky : Fun

by Ben Curtis


…and I thought that these days it was only country folk that ordered their gas by the bottle. Apparently not, as the Butanero can still be seen driving his lorry around Madrid. These men are herculean super-machos, capable of hoisting two full gas bottles onto their shoulders and climbing six flights of stairs (I imagine early retirement from crippled backs is common in this game…) One thing that always worries me though is the constant smell of gas that surrounds the lorries, especially with all the smokers out on the streets of Madrid these days. What the hell would happen to our block of flats if one of these things went BANG outside?!


Comment from Graeme
Date: March 8, 2007, 2:24 pm

I’m still a customer of el butanero, although these days it’s getting harder to find him as more people switch to Gas Natural. Even with price increases we still get our hot water and cooking gas at about 12 euros a month. The real downside is that freezing January morning when you are in the shower covered in soap….and you realize the gas is finishing! El butanero is one of the people in life that you have to treat well, a decent tip for hauling those bottles up the stairs is almost obligatory.

Comment from Skip
Date: March 8, 2007, 7:45 pm

This is interesting, so you madridians (?) have gas or butane? delivered to the home, and you have to hook it up like a gas grill. Is this common, or do modern flats have pre-plummed gas in pipes?

just a curiousity

Comment from Graeme
Date: March 9, 2007, 3:09 pm

It used to be almost everyone, but now piped gas is rapidly displacing butane. The bottle gets delivered and you have to hook it up to the tube. I think probably all new buildings have piped gas installed, the problem in older buildings is to get enough owners to agree to install the mains gas connection. In Madrid, getting neighbours to agree on anything can be difficult.

Pingback from Madrid Characters #2 – The Coal Man! – Notes from Madrid
Date: March 16, 2007, 10:59 am

[...] While some people are still heating their flats with individual bottles of Butane gas, most of the buildings in our barrio have central heating – meaning that one big old boiler in the basement pumps hot water around the radiators in the whole building. The upside is pretty powerful heating, the downside is that you have no control over when the heating comes on – in our building it runs from 1 pm through to Midnight, from around November to April. [...]

Comment from Gary
Date: May 7, 2007, 6:29 pm

Exactly the same in Barcelona – at least in Paral-lel/Poble Sec where we stay. The difference seems to be that the Butanero de Barça announces his arrival by hitting the cylinders with a spanner – always at the time you are taking a nap!