Haunted Island of Dolls

Decaying dolls handing by the neck from trees, strung up on lines stretching across an island, stuck to the walls of an old hunt. They own the island- waiting at every path, beckoning you to join them. Their ancient bodies falling apart. Plastic limbs cover the ground.  Their skin peeling, discolored. Their dead eyes always looking at you. Their blank stare haunts you even after you leave the island. As much as they scare you, pity stirs. You can’t help noticing how much they look like abandoned children. 

I don’t watch much reality TV. But, I love Destination Truth. I don’t know if Syfy canceled it. They haven’t had a new episode in awhile. In this show, a team of people travel to remote places in the world to investigate the supernatural- not just ghosts, unusual creatures too. One of my favorite episodes is the Island of The Dolls.

The Island of the Dolls (Isla de las Munecas) sits in the canals south of Mexico City. It’s the current home of hundreds of terrifying, mutilated 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. Shortly after the girl’s death, he began finding dolls in the canal. He feared that these were a sign from an evil spirit. He believed hanging the dolls on trees would protect him from evil spirits and the girl’s ghost.

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 on the island. He began scavenging more from trash heaps on his trips away from home. Later in life, he began trading his home-grown fruits and vegetables for dolls.

Over half a century, he collected more than 1,500 dolls. The oldest is still there, hanging in a shed by the entrance.

Santana died of a heart attack in 2001, and a small white cross near the water marks his grave. Some claim that Barrera died under mysterious circumstances, and that the spirit-inhabited dolls murdered him. Others swear that they’ve witnessed the dolls become alive at night and that after Barrera’s death, they assumed his role as the island’s caretaker. 

His cousin, Anastasio, now lives on the island, running it as a tourist attraction. “The spirit of the little girl is still here,” he says. “It’s important not to remove the dolls.” At night, he says, they come alive. “They will move their heads and whisper to each other. It’s very spooky, but I have gotten used to it.”

Each doll supposedly moves and whispers to travelers, offering an invitation to their home. You must bring an offering of a doll, candles and hard candy to appease the spirit when you visit the island. 

Image credit: Jekyll Hyde
This is straight out of a horror movie. I’d like to go there one day. Talk about inspiration. Can you imagine what this place is like at night?!


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