Apart from Avenida Independência, three other avenues lead off from this circle. Straight ahead is the railway station and shunting yard where old locomotives stand and sadly rust away. Walk a little way up the quaint road called Avenida Revolução and you will find Restaurante Tic Tic, popular among the locals. The interesting municipal market, Mercado Municipal, close by is definitely worth an hour or two.
Another picturesque street worth exploring, especially if you’re hungry, is the Avenida Acordos de Lusaka. From the Inhambane jetty walk down the right-hand side of Av. Independência. One block down, turn right into the Acordos de Lusaka (don’t expect to see any signpost) and drop into Restaurante Maçaroca a short distance down on your left. Another two blocks along this road, on your right, you will find the Restaurante Prima Vera (Mariano’s Bar) where the ‘city fathers’ once regularly congregated. Mariano, the owner, weathered 50 years of change in Inhambane, but recently closed his bar.
If you walk from the jetty to the point you will pass the cathedrals, the governor’s palace and get to Pensão Pachiça, probably the best accommodation in town and certainly the best place to get information about the area.
A Working ‘Museum’
From Inhambane jetty walk down Av. Independência, right into Av. Acordos de Lusaka and a few blocks to the (now closed) Prima Vera Restaurant (Mariano’s Bar) – next door is a fascinating working ‘museum’ – a printers called ‘Gráfica sul do Save’. Politely ask permission to walk around this little printing shop that, far from being a formal museum, still produces such stationery items as invitations and invoice books. Every letter and character is first fixed on brass blocks and then placed by hand on manual presses. Most 60-year-old printing machines are regarded as antiques and displayed behind glass, but not in Mozambique. For decades all development stood still and so the country remains caught in a time warp.
Walk down Av. Revolução and a little past the Restaurante Tic Tic, and you’ll reach the Mercado Municipal, a market that offers a bewildering selection of baskets, mats, hats and other useful household items. Prices are low by Western standards, but don’t be tempted to pay more, as this only pushes prices out of reach of the populace.
A reed basket is probably one of the most worthwhile purchases you can make as plastic bags are scarce, especially in northern Mozambique. Women cut reeds from the fringes of mangrove swamps and weave them while they are still green and pliable. Stroll into any of Inhambane’s bairros, and you’ll find the weavers sitting in front of their houses, hard at work.
The she-oaks or casuarinas (Casuarinaceae) are made up of a group of 45 highly distinctive semi-evergreen trees and shrubs native to northeast Australia, Southeast Asia, New Caledonia, Fiji and the Mascarene Islands. Casuarinas are tall trees with slender but wiry shoots which ‘weep’ (give off a light sap that soils tents, cars and anything else left underneath them). Common along the entire length of the coast, the Mozambican casuarina (Casuarina equisetifolia), also known as the horsetail tree, South Sea ironwood and she-oak, grows well in brackish soils, and was planted to stabilize the sand dunes and to form a windbreak. The name ‘she-oak’ derives from the resemblance of the tree’s long thin needles to women’s hair.