- An experienced mountaineer spent 500 days in a cave alone as part of a study in Spain.
- Beatriz Flamini emerged on Friday, telling reporters she had lost track of time in the cave.
- Before going underground in 2021, Flamini said she did not want to know what was happening in the outside world.
An elite athlete emerged from a cave 230 feet underground in Spain on Friday after spending 500 days alone as part of research to understand the effects of long-term solitude.
Beatriz Flamini, 50, left her "home" of more than a year and came into the sunlight on Friday morning, telling reporters she was in need of a shower — which she had not done in more than 16 months — and hoped to have a plate of fried eggs and chips with her friends.
The mountaineer from Madrid descended into the cave on November 20, 2021. In a social media post just days before entering the cave, Flamini wrote to followers they would see each other again in April or May of 2023.
Flamini's feat was monitored by a team of Spanish scientists as part of a "Timecave" project designed to study how a person would cope with being underground for an extended period of time. Flamini documented her experiences with cameras and placed the recording at an exchange point — and her colleagues would drop off food and other living essentials in return.
Psychologists and other researchers studied her recordings, but they did not have direct contact with her.
When asked by reporters about her experience, she said eventually, she lost track of time as she "got on very well" with herself. Flamini detailed how she spent her time over the past months, including knitting, extensive reading, and exercising.
"In fact," she added, "I didn't want to come out."
Before entering the cave near Granada, southern Spain, she told the team she did not want to know what was going on in the outside world — so she was not aware of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, for example, or the death of Britain's long-reigning monarch Queen Elizabeth II.
Spanish state news reported that Flamini did have to pause the challenge after nearly a year due to a technical difficulty. The elite mountaineer spent eight days alone in a tent while the problem was resolved, before returning back underground, per the Associated Press.
Flamini's long stretch underground is likely to break a world record, but it has not yet been confirmed.
Despite calling the experience "unbeatable" and "excellent," the experienced athlete did have one complaint: a one-time fly invasion.
"The flies! The flies! The flies!" she remembered, according to The Guardian. "There was an invasion of flies. They came in, they laid their larvae and I didn't control it and so I suddenly ended up enveloped by flies. It wasn't that complicated, but it wasn't healthy, but that's just what it was."
When the experience had finished, Flamini didn't even realize what was happening when her teammates came to retrieve her. "I thought something had happened. I said: 'Already? Surely not.' I hadn't finished my book," she said, per Reuters.