Patricia Selbert author of The House of Six Doors, was born in Puerto Ordaz Venezuela and grew up in Curaçao. At the age of 13 she moved to California with her mother and sister. Patricia: “In essence, Curaçao inspired my writing, I began writing memories of my childhood, over time these writings evolved into my novel. During the process of writing, I was able to explore many facets of our history. It has always fascinated me that our island is a place where people from many cultures were able to find a home. This multi-culturism, and my own experience as a four time immigrant have inspired me to pursue a Ph.D. in Psychology. I wanted to learn more about how immigrating and multi-culturalism affects us.”
Over the years Patricia has always stayed connected with Curaçao. During her 30 year career as a horse trainer and riding competitor she represented the Netherlands Antilles in competitions such as the PanAmerican games. Patricia: “It has been 24 years since I carried the flag of the then Netherlands Antilles during the Pan American games. It was a thrilling experience and a great honor.”
In a recent conversation with Patricia, we asked her to share a few of her favorite awesome things about Curaçao with us:
Where is your favorite place on Curaçao?
I have many favorite places in Curaçao, so this is a difficult question to answer for me. Among my top choices is Spaanse Water. I have many fond memories of spending the day swimming, sailing, and sitting on the beach, gathered with family and friends. Even though Spaanse Water looks different now than it did when I grew up in Curaçao during the ’60s and ’70s, it is still a magical place to me that I love.
What is your favorite Curaçao food?
Curaçaoan cuisine has many mouthwatering dishes, so, again, it is difficult for me to pick just one. The dish that I consistently find myself putting on my menu when I have guests over is Piska Hasa. This recipe is easy to make both organically and healthily, and each bite has bursts of flavor! The tastes of the onions, tomatoes, paprika, and various other spices beautifully complement the fried fish.
What part of the culture do you most identify with?
Curaçao is uniquely multicultural. Since it has been colonized by a number of different countries, each one has left its own mark on Curaçaoan culture. People from all over the world have settled on this little island—as refugees, exiles, slaves, or as free people of their own will—yet, somehow, all these individuals found a way to coexist in harmony. This multiculturalism is what I most identify with.
How does our culture express itself in your daily life?
I love to write about Curaçao. To me, it is one of the most romantic and interesting places in the world. The colors for which Curaçao is so well known decorate my home; Curaçaoan cuisine is present in my kitchen, but most of all, Curaçao’s herbal remedies, folklore, and diverse religious beliefs and rituals are always part of my family life even as I live so far away from this beautiful island.
What are you doing now?
I’m currently researching the somatic aspects of the immigrant experience for my Ph.D. dissertation in depth psychology. Specifically, I’m looking at the the unconscious, physical memory that immigrants bring with them from their own cultures and how it affects them in their new homes.
An excerpt of The House of Six Doors:
I dreamt Opa stood in front of me. “Let’s go to the House of Six Doors!” he declared. The landhuis was a one-and-a-half-hour drive from town and down dusty dirt roads, and about half a mile from the ocean. Next to the house was a windmill to lift water from the well. There were no other buildings for miles around, just rolling hills and gray-green brush. The house got its name because it had six doors, three on the ocean side and three on the bush side. The ocean-side doors opened directly on the center of the house. Here there was a large living room, a dining room, and a kitchen. The three bush-side doors opened onto a gallery that ran the entire length of the house. Oma had said all the plantation houses were built this way to let the trade winds flow through them. When I asked her why six doors and not four or eight, she told me each door had a purpose. The three oceanside doors were to bring in gratitude, wisdom, and compassion, and the three bush-side doors were to let out greed, ignorance, and anger. I loved staying at the House of Six Doors.