Isla de las Muñecas

There is an island between the canals of Xochimico, near Mexico City. It is believed that the island is a land of the souls of children, gone before their time. Upon this isle, there are hundreds, possibly thousands of dolls, most collected somewhere between 1950 and 2001. The dolls are all in different states of decay, most of them having no protection against the elements. Many of the dolls are in pieces, dismembered or decapacitated. However creepy the island may be however, it has a sad (yet creepy) backstory.

The story goes that in 1950, the man who was caretaker to the island, Don Julian Santana Barrera, suffered a traumatic experience. He found the corpse of a drowned girl on the edge of his island, a doll floating close to her body. Assuming that the doll had once belonged to the girl, Barrera hung it on the island as a way to honor her, and to immortalize the spirit of the girl that he believed resided in the doll.

Shortly after hanging the doll up, Barrera starting hearing the pitter patter of little feet in the cabin where he lived, and whispers and wails around the island. Barrera lived miles from the mainland and was the only person who lived on the island. Understandably, the incidents scared Barrera and, in an attempt to please the girl’s spirit, he started to hang more dolls up around the island. Some say that soon after, Barrera started operating under the belief that all the dolls held souls of lost children, some say that the girl inhabited all of the dolls on the isle.

Those who were close to Barrera claim that shortly after his mission to find more dolls for the girl began, he started going off the deep end. It seemed as if his new mission completely encompassed his life, he was obsessed with finding dolls. In 2001 Barrera died. According to some legends, Barrera was found dead, drowned in the same spot that he had found the girls corpse 51 years below. Other legends claim that he died of a heart attack, although there is nothing to support either theory. It is said that Barrera’s soul now inhabits the island of the dolls as well, forever a part of the dolls that he was so obsessed with.

These days, many tourists go to the island, some leaving dolls and others changing the dolls clothing as a form of worship. Most tour boats will take you to Isla de las Muñecas if asked, although some will refuse out of superstition. Tourists who go on the island claim that the dolls occasionally move their heads, open their eyes, and whisper to each other. The new caretaker of the island, the cousin of Barrera, Anastasio, claims that the dolls come to life when the sun goes down. He claims that the spirit of the girl still resides on the island, and it is very important not to remove the dolls.

That begs the question, what happens if you do remove them? Is there a story behind the warning? Let’s hope not. I for one, believe that ignorance is bliss.

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