Beatriz Flamini, a 49-year-old Spanish mountaineer and speleologist, emerged on Friday from a cave where she had spent over 500 days, without any contact with other human beings. Flamini’s isolation had scientific purposes and the experience will be told in a documentary. When it entered, on November 21, 2021, the war had yet to start in Ukraine, Queen Elizabeth II was still alive and in Italy, while the newspapers talked a lot about the “super green pass”, the cases of coronavirus had been almost 10 thousand in a day.
Flamini spent around 500 days at a depth of around 70 meters inside a cave near Motril in southern Spain. “About” because it was known that there were a few days in which she came out of the cave, but remained isolated in a tent. El País wrote that after about 300 days of isolation Flamini came out of the cave because she “heard the noise of the router in her brain”. In fact, there was a computer in the cave to allow her to communicate any needs via message and via video, without however involving interaction with other people. It is currently unclear whether that computer’s router actually had any kind of problem.
After going out, being examined and getting used to natural light again, Flamini said she spent a significant part of her time drawing, training and knitting, and the group of researchers who followed her said that in the meantime she read about 60 books and drank at least a thousand liters of water.
For about a year and a half Flamini, who did not have access to watches or calendars, did not speak to anyone: “I didn’t speak aloud but I had inner dialogues, and I got along very well with myself”, she said, adding however that she also happened to have some “auditory hallucinations” (it is not clear if those concerning the router).
Flamini also said that she stopped counting the days that passed after about two months, and that after 500 days she believed she had been in the cave for “160 or 170”. One of the most difficult moments, she said, was when a swarm of midges entered the cave, but she added that she never thought of abandoning the experiment.
The research behind Flamini’s days in the cave is about extreme isolation and the role of circadian rhythms in human biorhythms. Among other things, the researchers were responsible for providing her with food, clean objects and clothing, and removing her waste. Flamini also said that before entering she had made agreements with the researchers not to be contacted even in the event of the death of a family member.
Flamini was filmed and wore video cameras herself, and her experience will be told in a documentary. Before Flamini’s exit from the cave, who among other things is a mountaineer and speleologist, little information about the project had been disseminated.