This excerpt is from Melanya Helene’s award winning one-woman performance inspired by the writings of Pema Chodron. The Samurai Story offers glimpse of the simple magic and power of this celebration of exhaustion, uncertainty, and the art of giving up hope.
The Door To Hell
In 1971, a group of geologists working in a tiny Turkmenistan village called Derweze, accidentally stumbled across a subterranean cavern after the ground in which they were drilling for natural gas collapsed. Unsure what gases were escaping from within and concerned that it was in fact toxic, the geologists made the decision to set the gas alight, as burning gas is safer and more environmentally friendly than allowing it to be released into the atmosphere.
Little did they know that setting the gas alight would lead to the crater of natural gas to continue burning strong some 35 years later. To this day, the Darvaza (“the gate” in Turkmen language) has shown no sign of burning out. It is unknown how many metric tonnes of natural gas has been burned over the past three decades, nor is it known how many decades more it will continue to burn. The prediction is at least another 100 years.
An impressive 60 metres in diameter and more than 20 metres deep, the locals of Derweze call it the Door To Hell. By nighttime, the Darvaza’s glow can be seen from a long distance, giving the image of being a literal door to Hell. Moths, spiders and insects are drawn in the thousands to the Darvaza’s mesmerising glow. The heat produced by the burning gas is so intense that one cannot stand near the edge of the Door to Hell for more than a few seconds.