It was 2005, I was fresh out of high school and traveling. Rio de Janeiro.

I remember going to Ipanema beach and looking for pale or sunburnt skin, scouting for fellow European tourists in a sea of bursting brown beauty. I had one of those fleeting strong friendships with a French-Iranian who I’ll probably never see again. We beat two Brazilians at volleyball. One of them wore an ‘I Love Volleyball’ t-shirt. My friend bought some faux-flashy diamond-studded pink sunglasses and we pretended to be young oil barons, which provided us with immature drunken amusement.

I remember going to Lapa on Thursday nights for weekly street parties and countless caipirinhas. On one night I went with an English chap to a club that had one of those ‘pay-at-the-end-of-the-night’ card systems. As the night drew to a close, we realised we were both penniless and couldn’t foot the bill. He ripped up his card and flushed it down the toilet. This didn’t solve our problem. We leapt through an opening at the front of the bar next to the massive bouncers and clapped down the street in Havaianas. He got further than me but was eventually discovered behind a bush. Luckily he had a credit card and paid after a punch or two to the gut.

We partied in a favela, ate prawns and chilli on the beach, and saw one of the most magnificent cities on earth from the toes of Jesus. I love Rio.