Anyone here live in a cave or has visited one or built one?
I will be going to Andalusia in Spain next year to learn hands on permaculture, and have just found this site while mooching around the net on the area I will be visiting as I have not yet settled into my ideal home and I am kind of fallen in love with the idea of cavedwelling. Caves are apparently a natural way of life in Andalusia, for the more sustainable folk. The link below is mainly about man made caves an I find it pretty fascinating!
I have several caves here, and at one time had planned to live in a huge rock shelter, open at both ends, but was denied permission by the Archaeology Department due to some prehistoric bones and stone tools found in one area of it. I've also considered one as a "bunker" shelter in case of CME or other radiation event needing long term protection, so have given it a lot of thought. The main problem here is the humidity... a dry climate might make it more comfortable to live in a cave, but a humid climate would not be pleasant to live in long term. Think dripping stalactites all over the ceiling. There is also the cold factor, 20 degrees or more below the ambient temperature, sharing with bats, the perpetual darkness and limited access. In the man-made caves those problems might be overcome easier, but natural caves don't have human comfort in mind as they are evolving. In some ways I think they are fragile as well, and would have major damage with any kind of earthquake or flooding, both possible in this geological area. It's the same with real estate wherever you go... location, location, location.
Lots of settlers to the midwest USA lived in "dugouts" that were just hand-dug caves in the side of a hill. It kept them from freezing to death, but they did die from cave-ins, suffocation (from being snowed-in), sickness brought on by humidity, and general cabin fever. Most moved out as soon as they could build a shanty and the wife would rather freeze than go back into it.
I can't stand the humidity in most caves outside desert environments.
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When you go, make sure you visit Gaudix, North of Granada. They have a bunch of houses built into natural caves in the hilly part of town. I would say that the reason for cave dwelling (there at least) is less about sustainability, and more about necessity. Maybe they're related. Anyway, I visited once, and though the town looks a bit sketchy, if you offer them a few € after the tour, a lot of the folks are quite friendly and welcoming and will tell you all that they know about their house. They let me see every part of the home except the bathroom (although I didn't ask). As I recall, most of their cooking is done outside, and their kitchens are always situated in a way to vent to the outside as much as possible. We went in the summer, and it was wonderfully cool. Central Spain can get a bit chilly in winter, so I'm not sure about heating.
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