The ‘Gates of Hell’ is in Turkemistan

smithsonianmag-8432430216_2ea831ff99_o.jpg__1072x0_q85_upscaleIn the Turkmenistan desert, a crater dubbed “The Door to Hell” has been burning for decades

‘There are places on Earth that are a little creepy, places that feel a little haunted and places that are downright hellish. The Darvaza gas crater, nicknamed by locals “The Door to Hell,” or “The Gates of Hell,” definitely falls into the latter category—and its sinister burning flames are just the half of it. Located in the Karakum Desert of central Turkmenistan (a little over 150 miles from the country’s capital) the pit attracts hundreds of tourists each year. It also attracts nearby desert wildlife—reportedly, from time to time local spiders are seen plunging into the pit by the thousands, lured to their deaths by the glowing flames.

‘So how did this fiery inferno end up in the middle of a desert in Turkmenistan?…’
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Dying Language Being Saved by Reunion
Two men fell out over their friendship decades ago. But it is not a normal everyday occurence. Their falling out is endangering a dying language of Tabasco, Mexico (I wonder if chili is to blame).

‘Nobody else in Ayapa could quite understand what the dispute was about, except that it had something to do with the finer points of Ayapaneco, also known as Tabasco Zoque, a pre-Columbian Mexican language. It all but died out thanks to centuries of compulsory Spanish education, and Segovia and Velazquez are its last-known speakers. But to the despair of linguistics professors, nobody could convince the two former friends to have so much as a single conversation in the ancient tongue.

‘That’s why it was a significant coup for Vodaphone, the European cellphone operator, when it managed to get Segovia and Velazquez talking again as part of a marketing campaign called Vodaphone Firsts. A one-room schoolhouse named after the old friends was built where they now teach children the ancient tongue, and Stanford linguistics professor James Fox was flown to Tabasco to compile a dictionary…’


About DigitalPlato

Poch is a Bookrix author and a freelance writer. He is a frequent contributor to TED Conversations.
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