“When they came in to get me, I was asleep. I thought something had happened. I said, ‘Already? Surely not.’ I hadn’t finished my book,” the 50-year-old Spanish athlete said, according to the Reuters news agency.”
On Saturday 20 November 2021 – three months before Russia invaded Ukraine – Beatriz Flamini, elite sportswoman and extreme mountaineer entered her Stygian lodgings in a cave outside Granada, determined to learn more about how the human mind and body can deal with extreme solitude and deprivation.
Flamini, who was monitored from afar by a team of scientists from the universities of Almeria, Granada and Murcia, said she lost count of the days after about two months, and thought only 160-170 days had elapsed when she reached the project’s goal of 500 days.
Flamini went underground as part of an experiment to allow scientists to learn more about circadian rhythms and the human mind, Reuters reported. She was closely monitored by psychologists, physical trainers, cave specialists and other researchers, though no one was permitted to make contact with her.
From The Guardian:
“Flamini said she passed the time calmly and purposefully by reading, writing, drawing, knitting – by enjoying herself: “I was where I wanted to be, and so I dedicated myself to it.” Put bluntly, the trick was living in the here and now: “I’m cooking; I’m drawing … You have to be focused. If I get distracted, I’ll twist my ankle. I’ll get hurt. It’ll be over and they’ll have to get me out. And I don’t want that.”
“For me at least, as an elite extreme sportswoman, the most important thing is being very clear and consistent about what you think and what you feel and what you say,” Flamini told a news conference after exiting the cave. “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.”
Asked if she ever thought about pressing her panic button or leaving the cave, she replied: “Never. In fact I didn’t want to come out.”