There are 21 specks in Brazil's Fernando de Noronha archipelago, little more than rocks apart from the seven-square-mile main island, cast adrift in lonely isolation in the south Atlantic 220 miles off the coast of the mainland South America and three degrees south of the Equator.
For decades, lured by dreamy pictures of a South Seas paradise, I've always wanted to visit, but this time, on a brief trip south, I've really gone and done, landing at the height of the Zika-microcephaly epidemic. Ah, my impeccable timing.
What's more, to get there you go through Recife, Zika's Ground Zero, where airport staff are handing out pamphlets, telling you among other things not to leave stagnant water hanging about: 'If the mosquito isn't born, the disease isn't transmitted.'
Funnily enough, though, I'm about the only person wearing long sleeves and one of the few wearing long trousers - as advised by the UN World Health Organisation and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The Brazilians, it seems, couldn't give a spider monkey's anus about it.
Some dreams lead to disappointment in their realization, but not this one. Fernando de Noronha may not be as dramatically breath-taking as some of the South Pacific islands, but if you spend your time comparing or trying to select a top ten, you lose the beauty and uniqueness at hand.
The most spectacular feature is a huge grey monolith, called Morro do Pico, poking over 1,000 feet up into the sky from its lushly verdant vegetation. From the land side it looks like an enormous phallus sticking rampant out of green pubes, lording it over everything far and wide.
But from the sea it looks like nothing so much as General de Gaulle in his haughtiest pose, a huge rocky outcrop providing the enormous nose, and a large slit the arrogant eye.
Despite, or because of its phallic and Gallic connotations, Fernando de Noronha has been declared a UN World Heritage Site for its environmental significance.
Seeing that a main attraction is a boat trip along the coast, I'm ensconced on Happy Days, a small craft which is playing host to about two dozen Brazilians armed with snorkeling gear and selfie sticks. I can now say with absolute and definite certainty that Pico is indeed de Gaulle's fossilized head and nose.
The sea is beginning to play up, rocking and rolling here, boogeying there, and a lot of the Brazilians are looking like they don't want to play at all. Am I glad I took Dramamine. We return to port to deposit the vomitters, who have already deposited their all over the side of the boat. When we set sail again, we're just seven.
The views of countless lush coves, hilly ridges, outcroppings, monoliths, and conical rocks - a pair of them called the Two Brothers - are delightful, as is the roaring echo produced by a hollow cliff when the towering surf crashes into it.
We moor in Sancho Bay, reputedly the most beautiful beach in Brazil - a fairly small crescent of deep golden sand backed by a green curtain of vegetation and vertical yellow-brown cliffs. Again it's the same problem with 'best,' 'most' and 'top tens.' You try to rate and you spoil the pleasure.
It's compulsory to wear life preservers here, and the snorkelers look pretty weird with multicoloured foam float tubes emerging from under their chests by each armpit.
The weather is changing from bright sun to black clouds and squalls and back again every half hour or so. The haughty de Gaulle really looks sour under dark clouds.
To visit Sancho Beach from the land you have to descend 230-foot perpendicular cliffs by means of two equally perpendicular metal ladders and a steep deeply stepped path. Just the time for one of my vertigo attacks.
Once on the glorious golden beach, which a plaque proclaims not just the most beautiful in Brazil but on entire Mother Earth, it's time for even more vertigo, this time at the sight the most architecturally sculpted female bums - and some not so - covered in nothing but the skimpiest string of a string bikini, with the patch way above the crack up which the string has disappeared.
Now a dude has just blown a huge glob of snot out of his nose onto the most beautiful beach in the world - doubtless now the most beautiful snot in the world - perilously close to which a stringed female bum, not the most beautiful in the world, is now approaching.
OK, let's forget the snot, and let's forget pointless ratings. But if you want to be on a picture prefect beach with deep golden sand, a turquoise sea, a luxuriant eruption of green against a background of vertical yellow-brown cliff ramparts, with snowy white gulls crowning emerald trees, come here.
Ah yes, the beach
There's a warning sign, though: the sea is 'agitated.' Perhaps it's because of the stringed female bums.
The sea gone done agitated
As if that's not enough, on Lion Beach on the other side of the island, an over-enthusiastic suitor picks up his prone love in his arms. She's changed from her string to a dress, but she's forgotten to put on undies. The wind blows, the skirt balloons out and, lo and behold, there's not even a string disappearing up the crack. He now repeats the whole shtick. Talk about Gone with the Wind.
Lion Beach view
Sueste Beach view
Nearby a teju-açu, a large mottled black and white monitor-like lizard flicks out its purple tongue.
Lizard's eye view
Another spectacular site is Cacimba do Padre Beach with its Hawaii-like tubular waves, where the world surfing championships took place some years back against the background of the Two Brothers rocks. Here as elsewhere, the pandemic of selfies or 'look-how-imbecilic-I-can-look' poses is suffocating - but more on that in a later blog.
And now back to Zika: the authorities are nuking Conception Beach right beneath the Pico, trying to produce another eponymous immaculate event - and all in the name of fighting Zika.
What's actually happening is this: they're releasing experimentally swarms of male mosquitoes sterilized with gama rays by the nuclear institute. As females only mate once in their lifetime it's hoped the sterile newcomers will lead to the females producing stillborn larvae, thus reducing the population of the nasty little buggers.
What I foresee is the production of mosquitoes the size of Godzilla with the attitude Genghis Khan. Eat your heart out, Frankenstein! I'm certainly going to give Conception Beach a miss.
Despite all my forswearing and protestations that I would at all cost avoid Conception Beach, here I am walking thither at this very moment.
The mud track, puddled and slippery thanks to the frequent equatorial downpours, proffers glorious views of Pico towering phallically over the luxuriant vegetation, gradually morphing into haughty long-nosed de Gaulle as you descend to the magnificent beach.
Pico from the beach
Heavy rollers crash in from the Atlantic since the full moon is playing havoc with the waves - note to self: howl at the moon tonight - and the surfers are out in, where else, the surf. But there's not a crazed gama-ray-nuclear scientist in sight, not to mention my putative Godzilla-squito.
There are, however, plenty of amply revealed and revealing female bums in their skimpy string-kinis, some meriting the revelation, others more like horripilating scenes from the Book of Revelations.
No Godzilla-squitoes, but...
[Upcoming blog next Sunday: Chapada Diamantina, Brazil's Gem of a National Park]
By the same author: Bussing The Amazon: On The Road With The Accidental Journalist, available with free excerpts on Kindle and in print version on Amazon.