Spanish Athlete Beatriz Flamini Spent 500 Days in a Cave in Complete Isolation
All of us have dreams, small or big, of what we want to achieve in life. As strange as it sounds, Spanish extreme athlete Beatriz Flamini’s life dream was to experience living in a cave alone, in complete isolation for an extended time – and she fulfilled that in 2023.
Beatriz Flamini came out of the underground cave on April 14, 2023, after living there for 500 days with almost no interaction with the outside world. She seemed thrilled, excited, and in perfect mental health as she embraced her near and dear ones after one-and-half years.
But can you imagine living alone for so long without sunlight, comfort, or hearing someone else’s voice? For most of us, it is unthinkable, and I am sure we could not endure that for more than a few days. But things might be different in a situation where we might be forced to do so for survival. Flamini’s journey was not just an impulsive wish she had. It was also part of a science experiment aimed at checking the limits of human abilities to survive underground if ever the need arises.
So, what did her life in a cave look like?
Beatriz Flamini entered the cave on November 2021 and came out in April 2023.
Beatriz entered a 230-foot-deep underground cave in Granada, in southern Spain, on November 21, 2021, determined to spend 500 days in complete isolation. She went inside when she was 48 years old. She began her isolation when the British Queen was still alive, Russia had not yet invaded Ukraine, and the COVID-19 pandemic was still a living reality. She spent two birthdays inside and came out at 50 to a world that had changed again!
Scientists from the universities of Granada, Murcia, and Almería kept in touch with her using limited messaging technology. They brought her food like eggs, avocados, and other supplies and also picked up her waste every five days. But she remained out of sight, without interaction, to keep the experiment true. She was so committed that she instructed her team not to contact her even if there was an emergency or a death in her family.
On April 14, 2023, she finally came out of the cave and visited a doctor and a psychologist for a complete health checkup. Anyone would assume it was a tough and scary one-and-a-half years for Beatriz. But at the press conference, she said that time just flew by for her, and her experience was “thrilling” and “wonderful.”
At the end of 500 days, when the team went inside the cave to bring her back, she was dozing, and her first thought was, “Already?” She said she was disappointed that the book she was reading remained unfinished.
“It’s true that there were some difficult moments, but there were also some very beautiful moments – and I had both as I lived up to my commitment to living in a cave for 500 days.”
How was life in a 230-foot-deep cave for Beatriz Falmini?
Beatriz had no contact with the outside world for her entire time inside the cave. At the start of her journey, she was already mentally prepared to live in an environment of complete silence for 500 days. She recorded and documented her days on two GoPro cameras, listening only to the sound of her own voice. Flamini told the press that she got along well with herself but also faced “auditory hallucinations.” After 65 days, she lost count of time. During the entire time, she finished 60 books and drank 220 gallons of water. She spent her time doing exercises, drawing, painting, cooking, and knitting.
But she did come out for eight days, around day 300, waiting for repairs to a router that was used to send audiovisual updates on her well-being to her team. But in those eight days, she still stayed in isolation inside a tent.
Was there any moment when she was on the verge of giving up? It was not hunky-dory the entire time. One was an invasion of flies inside the cave, and these bugs were always on top of her. It wasn’t healthy to be enveloped by flies. It was a difficult phase, but she overcame the interruption. After coming out of the cave, she advised anyone, if ever needing to live in such a condition, to never panic and remain conscious, even if it is scary.
This experiment was part of a project called “TimeCave”
Flamini’s commitment to spend 500 days inside a cave was for science. The experiment was part of a project called “TimeCave,” through which researchers would study her to better understand how long-term solitude and social isolation affect the human body and mind. They would study a person’s circadian rhythms, brain patterns, and perception of time. In fact, according to a Spanish news agency, the experiment was her own idea and pitch. Psychologists, speleologists (who specialize in studying caves), and researchers closely monitored her for her entire tenure. Even after coming out of the cave, the experiment is still on! A significant part of this experiment now involves continuing to study Flamini’s physical and mental health. As soon as it is done, she plans to be off again on her next adventure, in another cave or a mountain!
Did Beatriz Falmini break the world record with this experiment?
The Guinness Book of World Records awarded the “longest time survived trapped underground” to 33 Chilean and Bolivian miners in 2010. They got trapped after a copper-gold mine in Chile collapsed, and they survived underground for 69 days in extremely harsh conditions.
But Falmini’s team is confident that she has now broken the world record for surviving the longest time underground. But the Guinness Book of Records has not yet confirmed the claim. Maybe in between voluntarily living underground and being forced to survive without being prepared for it, the latter naturally wins! But whether or not Falmini makes it to the world records, the feat remains enormous and inspiring!
You and I may not come out smiling after living 500 days in a cave, but not this lover of adventures. When the Guardian asked her why she looked so happy after such an ordeal, she replied, “How would you feel if you had a dream and you fulfilled it? Would you come out crying?”
She looked forward to a nice, long shower, fried eggs, and chips with her friends but admitted that she was ready to do it again if required. To that, we want to say, do stay ABOVE the ground for a few more days, dear Beatriz!
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