Spanish Athlete Emerges From Cave After 500 Days of Living Underground

Most people who emerge from caves these days are either enthusiastic spelunkers or people in need of rescue. However, one Spanish extreme athlete purposely chose to descend below the earth and remain in a cave all alone, cut off from the world, in the name of scientific research. After 500 days underground, 50-year-old Beatriz Flamini emerged on Friday, April 14, 2023, back into the light. Her long stay in the cave was a remarkable feat and has generated interesting data and opportunities for research on what such extended isolation can do to the human body and mind.

When Flamini chose to go into the cave on Saturday, November 20, 2021, she was well prepared with a support team in place. At the time of her descent into the 230-foot-deep cave near Granada, the world was a very different place. Her native Spain still had a mask mandate due to COVID-19. Queen Elizabeth II still sat on the throne of England. Roe v. Wade was still law of the land in the United States. Russia had not yet re-escalated the war in the Ukraine. Former President Trump had not yet been indicted. However, as all these things happened, Flamini learned nothing of it. She had given strict instructions to her team to not communicate, even in the case of a family death. “If it’s no communication it’s no communication regardless of the circumstances. The people who know me knew and respected that,” she told NBC.

She took two GoPro cameras down into the cave to record herself. Psychologists, researchers, cave specialists, and physical trainers examined how isolation and spatial disorientation affected her notions of time, her brain patterns, and her sleep. Supplies were lowered down, waste removed in reverse. Flamini reports going through 60 books and 220 gallons of water during that time. “On day 65, I stopped counting and lost perception of time,” she noted. There were emotional times, but she remained focused on “coherence” and the treats of avocados and fresh eggs lowered down. Surprisingly, she reports she did not talk to herself out loud, but rather in her head. “You have to remain conscious of your feelings. If you’re afraid, that’s something natural but never let panic in or you get paralyzed.”

When asking if she wanted to cut and run on her dramatic plan, Flmaini said, “Never. In fact I didn’t want to come out.” When she hit day 500 she was summoned to emerge. Flamini wore dark sunglasses to protect her eyes from the light they had not seen in so long. After a shower and catching up with friends (and two year's worth of world events), she will be examined by doctors for research purposes. Living underground can have impacts on vitamin levels, eye health, and many other functions. The Guinness Book of Records lists the “longest time survived trapped underground” to the 33 Chilean and Bolivian miners trapped for 69 days in 2010. If the organization wishes to have a record for a voluntary stay in a cave, Flamini certainly seems the perfect candidate.

Beatriz Flamini, a Spanish extreme athlete, lived alone in a cave for 500 days, reading books and documenting her time for scientific study.

h/t: [NBC News]

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Madeleine Muzdakis

Madeleine Muzdakis is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and a historian of early modern Britain & the Atlantic world. She holds a BA in History and Mathematics from Brown University and an MA in European & Russian Studies from Yale University. Madeleine has worked in archives and museums for years with a particular focus on photography and arts education. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, film photography, and studying law while cuddling with her cat Georgia.
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