At 16:00 there would be a basketball game, I had heard.
So I was there at 16:00 sharp. There, but alone. No players, no spectators, no ball, no ice-cream vendor whose presence would have been highly desirable in the heat. Not even a Coca-Cola machine.
I was surprised, for Chile had actually been the most punctual country in South America. But maybe it was different in Humberstone, this city deep in the desert? But then, the whole town was dominated by a clock tower which I could see from the stand. 15:58.
So I had the basketball court all to myself for another two minutes.
The lonelier the wait and the scorchier the heat, the slower time passes. I walked across the field a few times, threw a couple of imaginary three-pointers, cheekily sat down in the most expensive row and kept looking at the clock. 15:58.
Something was not quite right. I wasn’t wearing a watch, so I couldn’t prove to the clock tower exactly how wrong it was, but after I had waited long enough to gather dust and rust like the basketball court itself, I remembered the trick with the sun. And sun there was plenty of, I can tell you. Uff! From the shadows cast, I could discern that it couldn’t be any later than 13:00. No wonder my friends hadn’t showed up yet.
I went to the swimming pool instead.