A Spanish woman living in a cave for 500 days has finally emerged. After spending 500 days in isolation in a dark cave 70 meters below the Earth’s surface, fighting off a swarm of insects and the occasional irresistible image of roast chicken, most people would want to get clean and have company.
After a quick checkup with a doctor and a psychologist on Friday morning, Beatriz Flamini emerged from her underground hideout in southern Spain. She gave a 50-minute press conference in which she attempted to explain the nearly inexplicable.
“I was expecting to come out and have a shower,” she said to the assembled press. I was surprised by how many people showed interest. Flamini made an uncommon error in judgment there.
The extreme athlete and climber settled into her spartan cave outside of Granada on November 20, 2021, three months before Russia invaded Ukraine, to study the human body and psyche in severe conditions.
With the help of a team of experts from the universities of Almera, Granada, and Murcia, the 50-year-old athlete from Madrid is now believed to have set a new world record for the longest time a human has spent alone in a cave.
By day 65, Flamini informed the journalists she had lost track of time. When asked how she had managed to preserve her sanity for so long, Flamini said, “I got on quite well with myself,” referring to her long experience and mental preparation.
She had engaged in internal dialogue, though never aloud. It was only proper to maintain the cave’s eerie silence (after all, “it wasn’t my house”). Consistency, she said, was the key.
As an elite extreme sportswoman, “the most important thing,” in her opinion, is “being very clear and consistent” in one’s thoughts, feelings, and statements. “There were challenging times, but there were also charming times, and I had both as I lived up to my promise of cave dwelling for 500 days.”
Flamini stated she enjoyed herself by reading, writing, painting, and knitting and spent her time peacefully and productively: “I was where I wanted to be, and so I dedicated myself to it.” The secret, simply put, was to focus on the present moment: “I’m cooking; I’m drawing… Concentration is required. I’m afraid I’ll hurt my ankle if I let my mind wander. I fear for my physical safety. They’ll have to drag me out of here when it’s done. And that’s precisely what I don’t want to happen.
She had maintained her fitness, read 60 books, and filmed her journey with two cameras for an upcoming documentary.
Indeed, though, there had been some unpleasant episodes when she’d have felt like pressing the emergency exit and returning to civilization.
Flamini paused for reflection and then recalled a previous insect invasion.
The bugs! Those damned flies! The flies! she exclaims. The fly population exploded. Because I didn’t stop them from coming in and laying eggs, I was immediately swarmed by flies. It wasn’t hard to figure out, but it wasn’t good for you.
Being alone wasn’t as much of an issue as satisfying her hunger for roast chicken and potatoes. She told her crew that she did not want to know what was happening outside the cave, even if it meant hearing of the death of a loved one, before entering.
That’s okay with the folks who know and love me, she said. There won’t be any issues.
When Flamini described her emotions upon emerging from the cave, she sounded mildly irritated. When they came down to collect me, I was sleeping or dozing. When I first heard the news, I panicked. Already? I asked. No way.’ My novel was still unfinished.
Nor did the bright Andalusian spring sunshine blind her. It wasn’t even the sunglasses she wore that hid her features.
“I didn’t feel anything when I saw the light because it felt like I’d only just gone in there,” she added. I am telling the truth; I will not lie.
At the very moment when answers were starting to seem elusive, someone had the guts to pose the question that had been on everyone’s mind. Where do people go to the restrooms down there?
The unfazed Flamini explained that she had been leaving her “every five poos” at the collecting site, which was no surprise at that point. There was a burst of applause.
She finally admitted that she had reached her limit of five attempts. The garbage has to be removed. The gods provided for me after I left my sacrifices there.
She was just as blasé about her protracted lack of a shower: “I still haven’t showered. So, I am a woman who engages in extreme sports. Five hundred more days wouldn’t kill me.
It was the only time the feisty athlete and potential record-breaker looked confused by her interrogators. When she emerged from the cave, why did she appear so cheerful?
“How would you feel if you finally achieved a lifelong goal?” she responded. “Would you break down in the lobby?”