Clarissa Johal: Frightening Friday -- Isla de las Muñecas (Island of the Dolls)

Friday, January 25, 2019

Frightening Friday -- Isla de las Muñecas (Island of the Dolls)

Photo courtesy of Esparta via Flickr
Dolls. I've never been a big fan of dolls because I think they're creepy. Their blank stares, frozen expressions, predatory smiles...yeah, it's creepy.

Just south of Mexico City and between the canals of Xochimilco, there is a small island known as Isla de las Munecas (Island of the Dolls). As if one doll wasn't creepy enough, here you have a whole island of decapitated doll heads, arms and bodies; weathered by the elements and home to spiders and everything else. Oh, and did I mention? The dolls that populate the island have been put there to appease the spirit of a dead little girl and are reputedly haunted.

Don Julian Santana Barrera was a hermit who lived on the island. The story goes that he witnessed a little girl who drowned and was unable to save her. Seeing a doll floating in the canal, he hung it in a tree as a way of showing respect for her spirit. Shortly thereafter, Don Julian claimed he was haunted by the little girl and began hanging more dolls in an attempt to appease her. After 50 years of collecting dolls and hanging them around the island, Julian was found dead, drowned in the same spot where he found the little girl. 

After Don Julian’s death in 2001, the island became a tourist attraction run by members of his family. Local legend says that the dolls move their arms, heads and open their eyes. Some witnesses claim to hear the dolls whispering to one another. There are even those who claim the dolls have lured them to visit the island. 

Here's a short video to get an idea what the island looks like now. A trip to the Isla de las Muñecas is not on a regular tourist route. If you want to visit, you'll have to hire a private boat and the trip takes about two hours. Any takers?

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