Xochimilco trip in January 2012

I went to Xochimilco the other day with Michael William Parker Stainback and his out of town guest.  Every time we (México City residents) have visitors come in from out of town, we go to Xochimilco, an area best known for its canals; left over from the Aztec period.  When I take my Dallas guests to Xochimilco, we first go to the Dolores Olmedo Museum and then we go to the canals to ride the small boats called Trajineras.

With Michael Parker we didn’t do the Olmedo museum because we were going to spend the whole afternoon on the canals – stopping at the la Isla de las Munecas – Island of the Dolls.

click image above for slide show of my day

Though I had been to the canals in Xochimilco several times, this was the first time I was going to the Island of the Dolls, a place I often heard and read about: and I was looking forward to it.

I won’t say much except to say the island creepy and I wouldn’t want to be there after dark alone.  The time we went, there were no people just dolls, dolls that were slowly deteriorating.  There was a sitting area so all eight of us had tequila drinks!  LOL

click here for a short video of my day visit to Xochimilco


So why the dolls?

The story goes that the island’s only inhabitant, Don Julian Santana, found the body of a drowned child in the canal some 50 years ago. He was haunted by her death, so when he saw a doll floating by in the canal soon after, he hung it in a tree to please the girl. He hoped to both appease her tortured soul and protect the island from further evil.

One doll in a tree, however, was not enough to ease Santana’s troubled mind. He continued to fish dolls and doll parts out of the canal whenever he saw them, hanging each one carefully on the island. There weren’t enough canal dolls to satisfy Santana’s tortured spirit, so he began scavenging more from trash heaps on his rare trips away from home. Later in life, he began trading his home-grown fruits and vegetables for dolls.

Many stories have been associated with the island over the years. A popular tale was that Don Julian had gone mad and believed the dolls to be real children who he pulled from the canal and tried to revive. But the truth, as told by his family members who now run the island as a tourist attraction, is that Don Julian simply believed the island was haunted by the spirit of the little girl. For reasons only known to Don Julian himself, he believed that he could make the dead girl happy and keep evil at bay by hanging discarded dolls in all of the island’s trees.

Info from the Web Urbanist.