Woman Returns to Civilization After Spending 500 Days Isolated in a Cave

When Spanish extreme athlete Beatriz Flamini entered an isolated cave in the Spanish region of Granada on Nov. 21, 2021, the world was still in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia had not invaded Ukraine, and Elon Musk had not become the owner of Twitter. When the then-50-year-old stepped out of the cave 500 days later, she had no idea what had occurred in the outside world while she was isolated. Though she didn’t make any contact with friends or family, she was carefully observed by a team of scientists, including physicians, psychologists, and researchers who study caves. Living 230 feet below ground in the darkness of the cave, Flamini described the experience as “unbeatable,” after spending her days going through more than 60 books, exercising, drawing, and knitting wool hats. She says she lost track of time about 160-170 days in. Living in complete isolation for so long caused her to experience auditory hallucinations, but the toughest thing she had to endure was an invasion of flies in the cave, which left her covered in the tiny insects. When the time came to exit the cave, she had to be held because her senses needed to adjust to the outside world, and regaining her balance took a few minutes. She also had to wear sunglasses to protect her eyes from sunlight. The data gathered from her unique experience is expected to be invaluable in the research of the impact of social isolation and extreme temporary disorientation on people’s perception of time.