WHEN you’re jetting off for a cheeky February getaway in exotic South America, the last thing you expect is non-stop rain.
Not just ordinary British drizzle but proper pouring down, mingling with the heat to make Rio de Janeiro all steamy.
The column comes to you from Brazil this week. I’m sitting in a restaurant overlooking Sugar Loaf Mountain as I write this, admiring a hummingbird that’s hovering around the plants outside the window during a rare break in the deluges.
The beaches here are deserted, there’s not a soul on them. It’s like Scotland on a bank holiday, minus the midges.
Not that precipitation’s stopped our fun. There are six of us here for the world-famous Carnival, the greatest show on earth ... I can’t big it up enough.
This is my seventh time here and I just keep coming back for more.
Last year a hotel balcony crashed down around our ears, this time an amazing carnival float fronted by two 50ft lions veered out of control and bashed its way into the crowd. That’s Latin chaos for you, there’s no health and safety here.
And that’s part of the excitement. You just don’t know what’s going to happen next. Before I tell you about the celebrities here, let me describe the restaurants. They’re amazing.
So many of them operate an eye-poppingly luxurious buffet system where you pile up on salad and other side dish goodies and let waiting staff carve you pieces of sumptuous meat at the table.
You see Brits and other first-time foreigners acting greedy, like the meat will run out any minute, and piling their plates up. I’ve learned to eat slowly and savour the flavours. I’m being good, though, I’ve been refusing all deserts apart from deep-fried bananas that I can’t resist.
The Sambadrome where they host the procession competitions is the place to see the stars. I’ve spotted Maradona before and P Diddy. This time I saw Lucy Liu, the star of Charlie’s Angels, happily watching the action from a luxury box.
I took a few photos of her and she smiled and blew kisses to me. I also saw Quincy Jones and Lambert Wilson stars of The Matrix.
Well, there are a few days left of our holiday – let’s hope we get a bit of sunshine. I can’t come back to West Yorkshire with no suntan!