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Halloweek 2013 – Doll-O-Ween #2: The Island of Dolls

hblf, lfneJason L Blair29 October 2013

Ready for some real life nightmare fuel? The island of Xochimilco in Mexico is a massive testament to the notion that truth is stranger, and scarier, than fiction.

Once up a time, three little girls were playing on the island when one of them drowned. The girl’s body was discovered by a reclusive man named Julián Santana Barrera who tended one of the chinampas (floating gardens). Believing that the girl’s spirit, angered by her death, would haunt the island, the man began collecting lost and abandoned dolls that washed up in the canals or were found in the trash and hanging them from the trees around the island. Santana Barrera believed these dolls were still alive, though they had been forgotten by their families. In addition to appeasing the dead girl’s spirit, he believed the dolls came to life at night to kill predatory animals and helped the crops in his chinampa grow.

Santana Berrara passed away in 2001. One story goes the man drowned himself, having been driven mad by the island. Another goes that he was killed by the dolls. Who’s to say which is true.

The dolls are still on display, and visitors travel by boat to see them. For obvious reasons, guests are not allowed to visit at night.

While this place exists in our world, I can easily imagine this island appearing, in some form, inside Closetland. Perhaps these dolls are alive, as Santana Barrera believed, inhabited by spirits either human in origin or born from our own fears. Perhaps they are totems, hand-me-downs infused by the man’s own Belief? Many possibilities exist on the island of dolls.

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