Nothing changed and everything did. In Mar Mikhael, one of the areas of Beirut most damaged by the explosion last August, there were more signs of reconstruction than destruction when I visited last month. New glass storefronts were being mounted; inside pubs, furniture was set up for reopening. Across the highway, the remains of the 48-metre-high silos at the port stood charred and desolate. Traffic jammed the roads: it had picked up again, I was told, because of the holidays. Downtown, most of the stores were still boarded up and the walls covered with expletives, there since the protests that started in October 2019. The scene repeated itself further west at the central bank, and at various other banks, some of which were now permanently closed.