What It's Like to Spend 40 Years Living in a Cave

Pedro Luca has made do without running water, electricity
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 1, 2016 8:27 AM CDT
What It's Like to Spend 40 Years Living in a Cave
In this July 28, 2016 photo, Pedro Luca walks down the mountain to San Pedro de Colalao, in Argentina's northern province of Tucuman.   (Alvaro Medina)

Pedro Luca has become a legend in San Pedro de Colalao, where he's lived in a cave for 40 years. The 79-year-old Argentine survives without running water or electricity in his cavern high in a mountain in northern Tucuman province. When he gets hungry he picks up his rifle and goes hunting or heads on a three-hour trek down the mountain to the nearest settlement, reports the AP. A creek is his main source of water. His cave mates? Eleven roosters and two goats that roam the mountainside during the day and return at night looking for shelter from pumas and other predators. The crows of the roosters wake him up at around 3am every morning and he begins the day by starting a fire. "Fire is magical," he says, as the smoke fills his cave.

Town dwellers often give Luca food and supplies. He buys candles, yeast, and corn with a government old-age pension, worth about $100 to $200, that he collects at the town's post office. His only technological gadget is a small, battery-powered radio, but he has a hard time tuning into stations because the signal is weak up the mountain. Luca says he always wanted to live in isolation. He left San Pedro de Colalao at age 14 to travel northern Argentina and earn a living transporting coal to Bolivia, but returned to the area and the cave. "I never asked myself why I chose to live here," he says. "There was another cave nearby but I liked this one better. Sometimes, I think that I would have liked to travel the world, see Europe. But there's a lot of sea in the middle of it all and you have to have the time to cross that sea." (More caves stories.)

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