Why go? Time is unavoidable, it needs filling

 by Tony King, San Ignacio, Belize, 1995 or 1996

As the torrential rain bounces and glides off his black, scantily clad body, he stands legs astride the open drain, his back bent forwards, his dreadlocks obscuring all that is going on around him. 

He holds a wooden pole, thrusting it back up into the dirty water gushing over his ssandaled feet, pummeling the rapidly mounting obstruction of gravel and planks that is forcing the torrent of water to overflow the drain and flood through the backdoor of the small kitchen. It is not his kitchen, but he is often to be found there, laughing and joking, welcoming visitors to his country, his town. His guiding services are well known in the area. 

I stand on the raised step at the front door, having just paid the bill for my rice and beans while the pool of water around my feet had steadily risen. A young mayan girl grips my hand, holding her kitten in her other hand and crying as she watches the water rising; she is scared of what will happen when it reaches the ceiling, where will we go then?

A tall blonde American, apparently a student of cattle breeds, joins the shorter Rasta-man in the battle to clear the drain. 

Having attempted to reassure the young girl, I feel compelled to join in too, pulling handfuls of grime from the murky waters, silencing all thoughts of what I might be handling. 

There is something, some kind of inexplicable bond, that surfaces when three strangers from different nations and very different cultures, work together in a heavy downpour for a lost cause of no direct concern to them.