It was gone one in the morning when we arrived at Lapa to join tens of thousands of Rio revellers for the biggest party in town.
Every street as far as our drunkenly bleary eyes could see was crammed with people dressed in the local uniform – guys in t-shirts, shorts and havaianas and girls in skimpy dresses or bikinis.
“Hey man, welcome to the party!” a fifty-plus leathery, dark-skinned carioca slurred at me, as always correctly identifying my nationality before I’d said a word.
“Hey!” I slurred back.
“I f*ckin’ love this place,” he added eloquently, before giving me a hug and swaying off into the mass of bodies to enthusiastically introduce himself to another 100 or so strangers.
“What a friendly place this is,” I said to Sophie.
It was in that very moment that a small man launched a right hook in the direction of a very tall transvestite wearing a particularly unflattering figure-hugging leopard skin dress.
I think the midget man actually had to jump in the air to reach the target zone but he connected perfectly.
The crowd backed away as the she-he wobbled on her heels for a moment, teetering on the edge of toppling.
The very small man (no bigger than five foot) looked unsure about what to do as leopard-skin lady/lad regained her/his composure and started rattling off exceedingly camp sounding Portugeuse words in the midget’s direction.
I don’t know what had sparked the midget’s anger – perhaps he’d not clocked that this sister was also a brother and then had a nasty shock when he made a move downtown.
Unfortunately some local do-gooders stepped in to spoil my fun and after a bit more pushing and shoving and lots of shouting the show was over.
We continued to soak up the atmosphere for another couple of hours before finally surrendering to our bodies’ cries for sleep.
But as I walked back to our hostel I realised I had learned two valuable lessons that I shall remember for the rest of my travels…
1. Transvestites are pretty good at keeping their balance in a pair of high heels
2. Don’t mess with midgets 😉