In the marshy area of Xochimilco, south of Mexico City, is probably the most scary place in Mexico. After a long trip through an extensive network of canals, we can discover an abandoned island where the trees, covered with small mutilated bodies, offer a vision of a nightmare. Become one of the strangest sights in the world, this island is known as the “isla munecas the” Island of the dolls.
The history of the island starts in the 50s, when a Don Julian Santana Barrera decides to live as a hermit, leaving women and children behind. Shortly after arriving on the scene, Don Julian became convinced that they are haunted by the spirit of a little girl drowned in the canal that borders the island. To appease the ghost of the girl and protection from evil spell, Don Julian will start collecting old abandoned dolls that sometimes drift with water. One by one, he will hang from the trees of the island, forming a strange mausoleum in honor of the deceased child.
Don Julian will even go out of his hermitage to collect dolls advantage of in landfills, and aboriginal even take the habit of exchanging him against waste dolls that vegetables grown on the island. Small silhouettes mutilated then accumulate hundreds, literally covering vegetation. Over the years, they break down horribly, rain and sun eroding their faces with empty eyes. Attached to the branches by son of rusty iron, they are often covered with spider webs or dirt when they are not dismembered.
The island was really discovered by the public in the 90’s, during one of the Xochimilco canals cleaning program. The “trajineras” local gondolas, could then access them freely, and the island of dolls became a kind of macabre and surreal attraction. However, it is not on the classic tourist routes, and must specifically ask the boats drivers for a tour. Two hours through a maze of canals navigation is required to access it, but those who have visited the island speak for a unique experience, as a degenerate art installation in which one feels observed everywhere.
Don Julian Santana Barrera was found drowned April 17, 2001, at the age of 80 years. He lived alone on the island for the last 50 years of his life, the heart of his absurd and grandiose work. Now only occupying places, dolls slowly continue to rot in the sun of Mexico, but according to local superstitions, we could see them moving when the night comes ..