Just south of Mexico City exists La Isla de las Munecas, or “Island of the Dolls.” It has become an unlikely tourist attraction over the years, drawing tourists and photographers morbidly fascinated by the spectacle of thousands of dolls hanging limp from nooses or impaled on spikes, their soulless eyes staring blankly ahead. The tragic story behind the island began more than fifty years earlier. According to locals, a man named Don Julian Santana left his wife and child one day and moved to an island on Teshuilo Lake in the famous Xochimilco canals to live out his years as a recluse. Upon arriving at the island, however, he discovered the body of a young girl who had drowned in one of the canals, her doll floating nearby. To appease her spirit, Santana spent the rest of his life transforming the island into a shrine dedicated to her, decorating it with more and more broken and decaying dolls. In a dark twist, in 2001, Santana’s nephew found him dead in a canal–the exact spot where Santana had decades earlier discovered the corpse of the girl.
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