Buying maps in Chile is not like the experience we are accustomed to in the States. It is a far cry from the quaint gear shop, which also serves coffee and would make you want to stay all day except for the privileged kid tending the counter and serving up attitude about someone with a different ethic. In Chile, the best source for real maps in the Instituto Geografico Militar. It requires a journey of taxis and the subway to the center of the Santiago. This is the part of Santiago where they can't polish the turd, they can't mask the grim in sheets of glass attached to high-rise buildings, the place where coups have taken place and demonstrations are held. It's definitely not a commercial for Starbucks.
I don't necessarily enjoy my time in the city any longer. I can't wait to get into the mountains. Yet this challenge is an important part of why my time here feels right. It's not easy. And I go into the mountains a better person, because I am forced to be so - or be blind to reality.