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She spent 500 days alone in an underground cave – and didn’t want to leave

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A 50-year-old Spanish extreme athlete emerged on Friday from a 500-day challenge living 70 metres (230 feet) deep in a cave outside Granada with minimal contact outside.

Beatriz Flamini, a Spanish mountaineer who was isolated for 500 days in a cave, is pictured during her daily life at the cave in Motril, Spain in this screen grab taken from a handout video in November 2021. File picture: Dokumalia Producciones, hHandout via Reuters

A SPANISH woman finally emerged from a cave Friday, following a solo challenge lasting more than 500 days.

Beatriz Flamini left the surface to live 230 feet underground in November 2021, as part of a project that also gave scientists and psychologists the chance to investigate the impact of living alone, underground, for a long time, including the effect on her circadian rhythm.

With no human contact, or internet access, during this time, Flamini remained completely unaware of major news events, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.

“I don’t know what happened in the world,” the climber and mountaineer told reporters after returning to the surface in Granada, in the south of Spain.

While Spanish media reported that Flamini’s feat set a new world record for the amount of time spent underground, this could not immediately be confirmed. She was briefly forced to halt the challenge for eight days after about 300 days due to a technical issue, but stayed alone in a tent without human contact during that time, Spain’s EFE news agency later reported.

Beatriz Flamini, a Spanish mountaineer who was isolated for 500 days in a cave in southern Spain, is greeted by teammates. Picture: Screen grab, Reuters

Flamini, who was 48 when she entered the cave and is now 50, spent her days reading, writing, drawing and knitting, and documented her progress with two GoPro cameras, according to Spanish media. A team delivered food and took away garbage without ever crossing paths with her, she said at a news conference.

She explained that she stopped trying to count how long she had been in the cave after a certain amount of time. She spent most of her days in silence – speaking only when recording videos – and experienced “auditory hallucinations.”

“It’s not that time passes more quickly or slowly,” Flamini said in one clip from her experience. “It’s that time doesn’t pass because it’s always four in the morning.”

Thinking that only “between 160 and 170” days had passed, she was surprised when the team came to find her at the end of the experiment.

“I thought they came down to tell me I had to leave because something had happened on the outside,” she told reporters.

Despite the challenges – including an invasion of flies – Flamini appeared to enjoy her experience. When asked by a journalist if she’d ever considered giving up, she replied no, “in fact I didn’t want to leave.”

A production company has planned a documentary on her experience, using her recorded videos.

– THE WASHINGTON POST

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