Xochimilco, a nearly magical place in Mexico City, is the only remaining vestige of the ancient city of Tenochtitlan. Navigating its canals can give you an idea of how the promised land of the Aztecs looked like.
Nowadays, this place is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the capital city. It’s well known for its trajineras(traditional barges) and the beautiful rides they give through the canals so tourists can see the chinampas, floating plots of land where flowers, trees and crops are grown and harvested.
Among Xochimilco’s places of interest you can find the Isla de las Muñecas, the Isle of the Dolls, a cursed isle visited only by the bravest and those who wish to hear the tragic story of Julián Santa Ana.
Mr. Santa Ana was the owner of the isle for 50 years and during the last 10 he spent his time collecting dolls he found in the garbage which he used to “decorate” his property. This dolls have given the isle a grim and gloomy look, and if you get close, the air feels heavy and melancholic. Julián Santa Ana never gave a concrete explanation for his collecting of the torn and broken toys, but when asked he would merely answer “to haunt the haunters”.
When Mr. Santa Ana died in 2001, his nephew Anastasio Santa Ana inherited the cursed isle and he’s the one who now recounts the story of the dolls. Julián came to inhabit the isle in his youth and he later claimed that a girl drowned close to the shore of his property. The body was never identified so she ended up a Jane Doe who never received a holy burial and ended up in a mass grave. From that day on, Julián told his relatives that during the night he could hear a girl crying, a child’s footsteps and even a child’s voice calling his name. In an attempt to “scare away” the spirit, he started gathering all the dolls he found in the rubbish or floating abandoned on the water.
Those that knew Julián claim he slowly began losing his mind; more than once they found him sitting or kneeling down, talking to someone no one else could see…
In 2001, Mr. Julián drowned off the isle’s shore, in the same spot where it’s been said the body of the little girl appeared dead. Nowadays you can pay for a trip to the Isle of the Dolls, but be careful for the lancheros will often take tourists and visitors to a fake isle to avoid even coming close to the real one.