Early Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama called Inhambane ‘the land of the good people’. And he couldn’t be more accurate. Nestled in a large shallow bay, it has a rich cultural history.
Early traders from India, Portugal, and Africa made this one of the earliest established ports along the eastern coast. Sadly, it was the main trading port for ivory and slaves from the mid 18th centuries onwards too.
Civil wars, the abolition of slavery and the economic shift further south left this charming town forgotten.
First thing I noticed was the exact same statue of Machel I saw in Maputo, not quite as big, but in a better location. I wonder how many more times I will see this exact statue in other towns.
The long jetty is needed to reach the deeper channel of this very tidal bay. A ferry crosses the bay over to Maxixe, a shorter route than driving around the river mouth.
Anna, the friendly banana girl I met at Barra lighthouse, invited me to visit her family and friends at her home in Inhambane. We met at the airport and she guided me along the busy market road at the southern end of town to her humble home.
I met her husband and carpenter Fermento,
the neighbour, policeman Maela
and businessman (pastor) Charles welcomed me friendly and offered me a beer.
Teacher Joseffa joined us shortly after. I guess, both parties weren’t sure what to expect from the other at first, but that loosened up very quickly as we realized, that we have a lot in common. Beer helped to overcome communication boundaries. Mozambique Marabemta tunes sounded from the stereo, singing and dancing followed. It has the typical African beat, similar to Malagasy tunes. Just one of many similarities to the island state. It turned quickly into a happy social gathering with different neighbours dropping in and out. I felt comfortable and never once had been seen as a golden opportunity or been asked for money, but paid my share for a few trips to the bottle store for a refill.
Young son Manu carried out most trips, obrigado. Fermento offered me his bed to sleep in and asked me to stay an extra day. Losing sense of time and later direction, it was time for me to go to bed. It was a sad sight next morning, everyone was rather ‘mbala’, hungover.
After tea and deep fried dough balls (biscoita), Fermento, Maela, and Charles took me on a tour around town.
We walked the narrow palm tree-lined maze of tracks,
passing friendly neighbours and friends. The questioning looks spoke a clear language.
A white man walking with black friends in our backyard of town??
The boys were thirsty again, it was way too early for me.
A few kids played the worlds most favourite sport, a game of football.
Substitutes watched how the game unfolded,
others were more interested in refills,
or other activities.
The word spread quickly that I was in town as more and more friends dropped in for a visit.
Anna and her friend Layla were busy chatting about cosmopolitan issues.
Lopes Jesus likes beer, reading novels and flags it appeared.
Mike from northern Mozambique was just happy drinking beer and watching the commotion. Another happy gathering unfolded with more chitty chatty conversations and African beat tunes, as beer glasses were refilled. Some spoke better English than others, but it was obvious that all wanted to ask me questions about my life. Most were dreaming to escape Mozambique’s poverty and visit other countries. Who wouldn’t?
We took a few photos in front of Zimba.
‘Pastore’ Charles, quiet and reserved most off the time, got the entertainment award.
Kids from the neighbourhood happily joined in, Zimba disappeared in a wave of people.
Just a really relaxed vibe.
Maela was miles away,
Layla was posing,
On our way to the market, we stopped at a friends home, who just returned fishing, catching eels.
Anna haggled with market vendors about quality and quantity of locals produce, we’re having calamari for dinner tonight, Mozambique style.
Most vendors didn’t like the idea of having photos taken, shame really. But one has to respect their wishes.
However, more and more kids joined us on journey way home.
Policeman Maela was a great sport to entertain them often, which loosened their mind from uncertainty to being cheeky. Great to see.
Some cool kids.
His pretty daughter came over now and then, his wife chose to stay home, next door. Would have been nice for her join I thought but wasn’t meant to be.
Anna went straight on to prepare the calamari, which then was cooked in the dark with the help of ‘Luci’, my ever trusty solar lamp. Meanwhile, Mozambique tunes were still keeping Charles and Maela on their feet, whilst empty beer glasses were quickly refilled. The calamari and rice dish was well worth waiting for, quite delicious. By the time the last beer bottle was opened, most of us had more than enough.
The weekend was almost over, Anna will get up at 4 am again tomorrow morning, preparing her basket of goodies to sell in and around Barra. Who knows who she will meet at the lighthouse this time.?
It was a funtastic experience to meet and stay with the friendly people of Inhambane. Thank you to everyone who accepted me as who I am, and not for who I could be. Two different cultures, two different upbringings. One dream.