Dorothy Popenoe, from photo album at Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation.
A FICTION ON BURIALS
Tela had grown on her, a bit like the surrounding jungle seemed to grow at alarming speeds around the perimeter of the property. She had expected her discomfort to extend to the rest of her time in Honduras, but she had quickly adapted. She seemed to have a knack for the Spanish language and had made quick friends with her neighbors and some of the workers at Lancetilla.
She had spent the last few weeks knee-deep in the excavation of the new site where the experimental station was to be founded. During the beginning stages of the levelling of the site for the main laboratory buildings, some of the workers had found what looked like remains and shards of pottery. They immediately ceased digging and had called for the local priest to come and bless the site as well as the laborers who had found the artifacts.
There seemed to be an unspoken understanding between them—that these things were best left untouched and remain buried. To her scientific mind it was their only opportunity to study the history of the site that this project would occupy. Being able to contribute to these histories that often were left unwritten didn’t come along often. She was determined to prove herself. Tela was like tabula rasa for her, what she perceived to be a land untouched.