Ever wonder what it’s like to live in a house full of interns in the Amazon for nine weeks?

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Well, it’s a little messy, pretty sweaty, mostly loud, and overall, a contented chaos that culminates in some of the best learning you could ever imagine..



La Casa Runa. Where the magic happens.

Imagen 2 Imagen 3In the mornings before heading to work, I like to enjoy some granola, a cup of guayusa, maybe a book, and a quick swing in the hammock before the day begins. Stepping outside onto the deck, a million birds chirp, a chorus of crickets squeak, and the rush of the river in the backyard fills the air with thunder.







You might wonder: is it crowded in Casa Runa? Well, we definitely have enough room for people, but recently, it seems that we have welcomed a few, uh, nonhuman guests into our home. We have learned that warnings are good,Imagen 4
that naming the newcomers helps them seem less creepy-crawley, and that sometimes, you need to ask the bravest intern you can find to help you out (thanks Elena!!)
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For dinner, I like learning about interesting new healthy recipes from my vegetarian roomie, Grace and helping her cook them for the whole gang! (Note: I DID contribute to this dinner; I was on guac duty.) We practice our spanish, talk about all the crazy things we did that day, and enjoy eating all the interesting fruits that you can only find in the Amazon!!


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After dinner, we work out our vocal cords with my gal Alice, who, let’s just say, has a slightly better voice than the rest of us (me). Sometimes she takes requests, sometimes she jams out, but my personal favorites are the lullaby-esque tunes that we can all sway to. 🙂Imagen 8


Other nights we do some WORK: some brainstorming sessions, the sharing of relevant articles, and last minute editing for our various projects (grant proposals, spreadsheet touch-ups, or map sketches). Imagen 9


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Seen: Casa Runa ladies scouting out the best spot to set up shop for a Saturday at the river. Turns out Casa Runa is in the PERFECT location, with our own river right in our backyard as well as a short walk from the best beach spot in Archidona! Alice and Grace like to lead us in some beach yoga while I struggle to balance and breathe at the same time..

What I’ve learned so far: 1. New poses involving various animal names 2. River showers are not the same as real showers!!


Don’t forget: someone needs to feed the chickens every day!!! Our four feathered friends live in the coop in the front yard Imagen 11and are growing up so fast!! We (think) we’ve got two lovely hens and two rooster-men. Polls are still open on naming–current front-runners include Esteban and Helena, with two open slots up for suggestion. We plan on using their poop to fertilize the trees in our nursery and will soon be able to eat the eggs from our two chick-gals!






Imagen 12Every Thursday, we get together at the house with our friend Carmen and two of her friends for an ~intercambio~ or language exchange. Carmen teaches us new words and phrases in her indigenous language, Kichwa, and we share some English in return! Our memory aid for “Good Morning” in Kichwa, which is “Alli Puncha,” is Allie will Punch Ya in the morning. (Apparently I am a little less than cheery before my morning cup of guayusa).



Sometimes, when it rains, our beloved Casa Runa gets a little leaky. Brilliant aforementioned roomie, Grace, helps keep our kitchen puddle-free with an innovative drainage system involving a broom which (sometimes, if you’re lucky) features danceImagen 13 moves.








Imagen 14Need a laundry-friend?! MEGAN CAN HELP (thanks Meg). We have an outdoor washing station that involves soaking clothes in buckets followed by a strong whacking against the stone tub to get them dry as-can-be. Alice and I tried our hand at this technique only to discover that the whacking seems to stretch out clothes and they STILL seem to smell really bad (?!?!?) We’re going to get a lesson from our friend Carmen and give it another try. Stay tuned.


What happens in this Casa, you ask? So many things. So many weird, silly things. Lots of impromptu dance parties as well as quiet, reflective moments. Lots of long conversations and ethical debates and many questions about the intricacies of chicken maintenance. So many thoughts, so much noise, so much growth.


to our crib.

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Allie Reichert

Public health intern

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