Isla de las Muñecas – The Island of the Dolls

I have always loved a good story, with great characters and the opening sentence “Legend has it…”

These are stories to tell around the campfire, to pass along and keep alive – but some stories, I’ve just got to see for myself. The Island of the Dolls is such a tale.

Legend has it, a little girl drowned entangled among the lilies of the Xochimilco canal. Her body was found on the banks of one of the islands by Don Julian Santana Barrera.

Julian was the caretaker of the island and, shortly thereafter, he found a doll floating nearby and, assuming it belonged to the deceased girl, hung it from a tree as a sign of respect – to support the spirit of the girl. After this, he began to hear whispers, footsteps, and anguished wails in the darkness even though his hut – hidden deep inside the woods of Xochimilco – was miles away from civilization.

Driven by fear, he spent the next fifty years hanging more and more dolls, some missing body parts, all over the island in an attempt to appease what he believed to be the drowned girl’s spirit.

After 50 years of collecting dolls and hanging them on the island, Julian was found dead in 2001, reportedly found in the exact spot where he found the girl’s body fifty years before.