July 17

FLOATING GARDENS OF XOCHIMILCO – MEXICO CITY

At the embarcadero, take one of hundreds of boats (trajineras) through the canals which is all that is left of the lake on which Mexico City was built.  The boats are colorfully painted and often bear the name of the owner’s female child or other relative.  Bring your own food and drinks for a picnic lunch,  as they have a long table down the middle. As you travel down the canals, music boats float by with bands, mariachi trios, and marimba players, and for a fee you can have them float along beside you and play the songs that you request.  As you travel view city life, houses ranging from run-down to amazing villas, restaurants, and greenhouses where flowers and plants are grown. Further beyond the city canals there is a wildlife preserve in which the original character of the chinampas (Aztec-era “floating gardens”) may be seen.

On the canals of Xochimico you can see a small island with a sad background which never intended to be a tourist destination. The island is known as Isla de las Munecas (Island of the Dolls).  It is dedicated to the lost soul of a poor girl who met her fate too soon in strange circumstances.  The small island is home to hundreds of terrifying dolls.   It is said that a girl was found drowned in mysterious circumstances many years ago on this island and that the dolls are possessed by her spirit.

Don Julian Santana Barrera was the caretaker of the island. The story goes that Julian found a little girl drowned in mysterious circumstances.  Shortly after her death, the caretaker saw a floating doll near the canals. Most probably, the doll belonged to the girl.  He picked up the doll and hung it to a tree, as a way of showing respect and support the spirit of the girl.  Julian was apparently haunted by the spirit of the girl and started hanging more dolls in an attempt to please her spirit.  He continued to collect creepy dolls hanging them over the entire island.  After 50 years of collecting dolls and hanging them on the island, Julian was found dead, drowned in the same spot where the girl did.  Many people on the island believe that Julian has joined the other spirits of the island.  The locals are very faithful that the Isla de las Munecas is a charmed place. After Julian’s death in 2001, it has become a tourist attraction, where visitors bring more dolls.

Text courtesy of Isla de las Munecas- The Island of the Dolls http://www.isladelasmunecas.com

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