Beatriz Flamini is the example of grit.

How much time are you able to spend alone, without seeing anyone else? A few days? Maybe longer?

Now, how much time do you think you’d be able to go without seeing anyone else while also living alone, underground? One woman figured she could last 500 days… and she was right.

A Scientific Journey

a dark cave with green moss
Courtesy of Pexels

On Saturday, Nov 20, 2021, a Spanish mountain climber named Beatriz Flamini entered a cave in southern Spain to spend 500 days in isolation. She was 48 years old and wanted to help scientists see how a human would handle living underground for so long. According to the Associated Press, the project was called “Timecave.”

Flamini entered the cave 70 meters underground, armed with books, painting and art supplies, and knitting. She used two cameras to document her experience and then placed the recordings at an exchange point. Her team dropped off food and other necessities at the site throughout her time there.

According to AP, there was a team of psychologists, researchers, physical trainers and speleologists monitoring her, but none of them had direct contact.

After five hundred days underground (excluding eight days where technical difficulties forced her to stay isolated in a tent, instead), Flamini emerged, triumphant.

A Lovely Time

Shortly after Flamini came out of the cave, there was a press conference where she detailed her time there. She asked who was buying the celebratory round of beers, and admitted she lost track of time after about 60 days.

At no point did she feel like she would hit the panic button though, even when a swarm of flies attacked her. “If this is your dream and you’re realizing it, why are you going to cry?” she said, as per Reuters.

“In fact, I didn’t want to come out,” she told reporters. “When they came in to get me, I was asleep. I thought something had happened,” Flamini added. “I said: ‘Already? Surely not.’ I hadn’t finished my book.”

Then, because she hadn’t showered in more than 16 months, the now-50-year-old asked to be excused.

A New Record

Flamini missed a lot of things during her time in isolation, like the end of certain COVID restrictions, the death of Queen Elizabeth, and the start of the Ukraine war. But her team also believes she now holds a world record, which will hopefully be verified soon.

According to the AP, Italian Maurizio Montalbini set a world record in 1987 by spending 210 days in a cave. There are also reports of a person who spent more than 460 days underground in 2016.

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For now, Flamini is looking forward to catching up with friends and family. Doctors will also continue to monitor her mental and physical health in the near future, so she’ll wait to hear their final assessments before planning her next adventure. Until then, she’ll have fond memories of this one.

“I didn’t talk to myself out loud, but I had internal conversations and got on very well with myself,” she added. “You have to remain conscious of your feelings. If you’re afraid, that’s something natural but never let panic in, or you get paralyzed.”

You’re More Capable Than You Realize

It takes a strong person to survive an isolating experiment such as this, but this story is also touching because it reminds us of just how incredible the human body is. If you can put your mind to something, you really can achieve incredible feats. Flamini is proof of that.  

We may not be able to survive a cave, but we can get through hard things. Often, the only person that stands in your way is you.

This story just reminds us that sometimes we have to stop the negative self-talk and get our grit on instead. Because once we do, we’re basically unstoppable.