The Marhslands

Today after 10 days of talking and under guidance of 15 police men. We finally visit a Mudhif and later we went by boat into the Marshlands very close to the Iran border.  The policeman really liked this trip as much as we. With us was also a sheik. He develops special programs for women into the Marhslands. He did not shacked hands with me because I am a woman. It seemed that there are floating special hormones between the hands and that would be dangerous for the appetite in sex. To morrow we leave for Kuwait. We are ready for this moment.

We are still here

We are still here

The last two days we spent talking, calling, much calling, waiting, drinking tea, smiling, sometimes shaking hands, sometimes putting my hand on my breast and then it seemed that yesterday evening the solution was there. Ahmed discovered in our passport that we had a special permit for work in Iraq valid for one month.

That was what we tried to obtain yesterday energetically and now it was handwritten in our visa.

So that obstacle seemed out of the way. This morning Ahmed was leaving for Holland so I was up early to wave goodbye. He seemed very worried. The political situation in Iraq worries him a lot. His advice: Go to the Marshes and then go away.

It is too dangerous now.  Marsoomi also looked worried and he is now going to the Governor to arrange our visit to the Marshes tomorrow.

Here we are very safe with a paradise surrounded by fences and patrolling policemen.

This morning last minute talks with Chaib Marsoomi together with Ahmed Faraj. And then the works on the Tigris riverbanks. Now still an image from the past and the present. Soon 5-star hotels at the shores of the Tigris. In the meantime I am not getting bored.

We get visitors everyday. At the building site we met Hasan, Ali and Riaed, workers from MercyCorps. An international movement for help in areas in shock. Yesterday they showed a movie they made themselves about the Marshlands. Finally we saw something about this beautiful land. And unfortunately there is not much left from this paradise for birds, plants and people. At this moment Syrians, Turks and Iranians are building dams in the Tigris and one of the consequences is that the soil gets silted.

I hope that we see the beautiful part tomorrow. Although I know that is an illusion. We met also Mohammed, an Iraqi who lives in Utrecht and is visiting his family here. We talk over the phone everyday and yesterday we lunched together. It is nice to to talk too an Iraqi in Dutch now and then, to understand everything a little bit. And now we wait for Mr. Marsoomi. In the meantime Sam reads an old HP magazine and Thomas did his washings. Sam always translates my text in English and I am very glad with that and the reader will be grateful probably.



The beginning of my day was a wake-up call : “madam,madam,passport,passport”. Then I noticed two made beds so where Sam and Thomas were I didn’t know. I gave my passport and decided to head for my bed. Later there was a terrible pounding on my door. With a confused head I opened the door and to my surprise saw 5 policemen standing there. Hollandia…yes, they made some gestures that I didn’t understand which was clear to them: “Excuses Madam”

That was the start of the day. One hour later Sam and Thomas came back. They made the last shots from Veerman and his team at the house. Because the security had to escort the Veerman team to Kuwait there was no security for us left.

So Mr. Marsoomi called the police and that was the beginning of a series of visits to police stations and even the Governor’s office. It was and is not simple, somewhere something went wrong in communicating but I don’t know where yet. Finally Mr. Gazan, head of the media department of the police came and after extensive talking we were asked to come to his General. He was residing in a beautiful building, especially his room. To much to explain, think of a lot of blingbling. Glass tables on golden (!) hands many golden lions, many artificial flowers. Very big sofas. What was very special was that we were being filmed and photographed (secret service) and that Thomas and I were doing the same. They accepted it and went on filming. Two large plasma screens. One with connection to eight other locations. The General gave his permission to film in the Marshlands and provided security for our stay. But his supreme boss the Governor did not give permission. So all of us went in the car to the Governor. Unfortunately in a meeting. And now, 5 hours later he still is. In the meantime people called their brothers who are minister and others who are friends with the Governor. We are waiting and know that in every city there is a meeting.

Because if a new government comes to power, then there will be a new governor in every city. So the new powers to be prepare for take-over and our case is peanuts at the moment. Twelve hours later. Alas. The Governor has decided. We can no longer leave our garden of eden. Tomorrow back to Kuwait. This the first phase of the

project of the Land of Two Rivers.

Our trip today

Ezuldeen, Zaineb en Mariam

This afternoon a worker from the resort came to us quite desperately and gesturing that it was about children who might become blind. He was followed by a man with three small children. It became clear that they were his son and two daughters. The girls were wearing sun glasses, one of then looked constantly down, and the boy was in a squatted position with his head as down to the ground as possible. To make a long story short. In the medical papers the father gave us, it was stated that they all needed a corneal transplant which was not possible in Iraq. Couldn’t we, with our media-team arrange for some kind of help in the Netherlands? After a lot of talking the story is now as follows. The imam is willing to pay for the operation but he will not advance the money. So if we could pay for it and the operation performed then they would get the money from the imam. This became clear after about two hours. In the meantime we made clear that we had no access to the media and that in Europe the streets were not paved with gold. When the father offered his daughter to me I couldn’t take it any more and left the discussion. Finally Sam and Thomas mentioned the Imam story. It seems that the most important information is hold till the end. I don’t know if we have the energy to figure this all out. After all we have to visit the first Mudhif.

In a moment we are going to make a boat ride on the Tigris river. A boat without engine but with paddles. If we are lucky we will just catch the sunset.

But, no; no sunset in a romantic boat. This is already the third day that the promised boat is cancelled for one reason or the other. Then a few pictures of our site The Garden of Eden and the city Al-Ahmara.



As I told already they work very hard to make the garden look like the plays by

Genet (paradise). A paradise with dolphins and a sad looking mermaid. Beautiful fountains. Playground material never unpacked, a slide ramp already rusted away.

But alas, in this hot paradise no swimming pool, not even a small pool. They hope Westerners will come but they definitely want to swim. I think it’s an interesting subject. The Tigris in front and till yesterday it was a big mess of plastic waste.

I spoke to the Cheik about it and he noticed it to….as a consequence it looks already

much better. A small carload of garbage was removed but still it is not clean.

The designer of the fountains comes from Baghdad. He learned the trade from his father who learned it from his father. Here in the garden of Eden no woman is to be seen. Last week some professors from Baghdad were here to do exams at Amarah University. Among them there were also some women. Why do I mention this. Well to be honest I become a bit rebellious. I’m beginning to feel oppressed by the dress code. And all day only men. Men who clean the windows. Men who bring tea. Men in long white dresses who sit behind closed doors. Men that weed. Men that paint dolphins. Men who serve breakfast. And so on and so on… Men who always politely say “Good morning Madam” and men in the office who want to learn me the word

“adebitsch” (phonetic) which means step by step.


A bird just fly through my living room . He enter through the window in the bathroom en used the living room as space to fly out again. Small images of the Garden of Eden..

To day it is Friday and as I thought no work on Friday the  Muslim sunday day. All around me they work to completed the garden around this hotel. I promised it before, one day just a blog about this place. Sam en Thomas are to the constructing place of the house and I use this morning to bring order in my pictures of yesterday and that helps to get my item for the blog of today.

Yesterday was a very intensive day. The day before we met Dr. Riaed S Jassim chairman of the investment commission of Maysan. I met him on the place of construction of the house. So I expected him to appear but in stead of that four man in two white Nissan’s came and introduced themselves as business men who where looking for investors in the city. Of course they started to speak to Thomas. But in this case he was very correct and said to them:” There is miss Anne she is our director you have to speak to her”. Unfortunately I did not managed to get through this business thinking so at least I said yes on a proposal if I wanted to see a beautiful place on the Tigris. And there on that spot it became clear that there was something else going on. I was taking pictures of very crazy things (in their mind crazy things) like old cars and old house, something on the ground. And that made them stop to convinced me that this spot was a beautiful place for a 5 star hotel and the only thing what was needed was an investor. So they asked me what I want to see. My answer was :”The city of course, the live in the city and the university”. And that all happened.

So we passed by a very old Soul and the market and finally we ended up in the university where we had a meeting with the staff of the university and they invited me

to talk about my mission. So I told them that I was an artist and that my first interested her in Maysan where the marshes. So then they introduced me to the director of the fine Arts department. And the rest of the stay in this part of the university was overwhelming. I touched the first Reed, I got a private concert in the theatre hall.

I got a beautiful painting and at least I entered the ceramic department where they explained me that they where still working with mud. There was no money for an oven. The sun was since the first made sculptors on earth their oven. So while the rest of the world went a long in their development and where talking about the first founded sculptors in Mesopotamia, where we are right now in the middle of it.

They where not taking part in our development.

So let’s start to collect money to provide then an oven. This is the start of my business today.


This afternoon I was invited by Hajj Abed Al-Saedi the owner of this hotel to make a small tour with him. He wanted to show me some special places. It where all religious places and I got different presents, like the Koran a prayer chain and a prayer tablet. So together with my black dress and my veiled head I am ready for it so to say. At least a piece of cloth in the famous green colour It became clear to me that he owns a lot of land here in this neighbourhood. And as it became clear to me that he wants to use this for tourism. He is the head of a tribe and there for they call him a sheik. His family is very big and the whole I get introduced to new people with the sentence, He is a nephew or the bother or the sun of the brother of the…and so on. They all have a kind of place here in this Garden of Eden Hotel. Talib a nephew of the sheik says it like this: Our country does not have a government so if we have problems we go to our sheik. And he helps me to solve it.

The House

Yesterday we came on the working place at around 10 o’clock. The frame of the Veerman house was already there. The Veerman house was built in the middle of houses build with bricks. I like the colour of those bricks. It is from light yellow to light brown. In the city of Al Amara a lot of new houses are built but the infrastructure is very poor I only saw sand roads. I spoke with the owner of a beautiful house just aside the Veerman house. His house was built in 1980 and he would really like to have a Veerman house. For this house he could have three of these houses. For every son there could be one house. I was allowed to see his house. First I was alone and then the women showed me full of proud her house. Big rooms nice and cool and a palm three was hanging like an umbrella above the patio. I wonder if she would like to change? This is a very poor region so perhaps by way of building more people can afford a house. Mr. Marsoomi was very happy and he sees a lot of possibilities for the people here.

Black Dress

Good morning. Around me in The Garden of Eden it is already very busy from working with the plants, building pavilions and constructing the fountains. I promise you an extra photo edition one of these days.

Yesterday Mr. Marsoomi came in with two big plastic bags full of real black Muslim clothing’s and a beautiful blue house dress. I have it experience a lot every body gets very happy when they see that you put on these cloths. Now you are a real Iraqi or even a real Muslima. I think it needs more to get there! But any way now I am allowed to got to the market one of these days together with a guard. But as a silent black bird. Not taking picture just looking. Finally I am behind my computer already dressed to leave the house. I am going to buy some telephone cards and I have to work on their PC. Apple and the provider here do not fit for getting connection.

Skype works.

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