Just two or three doors down the street from our apartment block is the Evergreen. Unlike most of the bars in Beirut, which are open-fronted, or at least with huge plate-glass windows, it more closely resembles an English pub. It has a wooden front door, meaning you actually have to open it in order to find out what is inside. Jeromie (one of the other volunteers) and I discovered that we had both been intrigued by what we might find, so one night, along with Mahmoud, long-time friend of Jusoor, we pushed it open.
It turned out to be quite like an English pub on the inside as well: a narrow saloon with a bar along one side, and decorated with a rich collection of nick-nacks from all over the world. It also boasted a dartboard, squeezed into a corner by the door. There were some welcome additional attractions: every beer automatically arrives with complementary nuts, crisps, breadsticks and a small bowl of raw vegetables, all very tasty.
Crucially, however, the main attraction is the owner and landlord, named Amigo. He has a personality as big as a bus, and gives the warmest of welcomes; he soon becomes a friend.
Incidentally, that first visit turned into quite an experience. A couple of games of darts, a couple of beers, a couple of shots… and no distance at all to stagger home. I’m just off now to pay another visit.