51°30’35”N 0°7’5”W

52 Cities

Open Sidebar

Island of the Dolls

Dave Waddell and Adam Scott
12:40:32 31 March 2024
18° 50' 30.01 N -97° 43' 32.99 W


I can’t say exactly when we came across the dolls. We had been on the water for an hour. The other boats had disappeared along with the music and food. The trees leant into the canal, their leaves levitating in the heat. We drifted towards an island. The first doll was nailed high up a trunk. Another hung upside down from a branch. Limbs and heads and torsos lined a fence. Dolls of all kinds and in all states gazed back at us. And for a time they were everywhere, and then they were gone, and the island was behind us – if not the feeling of having participated in something unspeakable.


The Island of the Dolls is located in Xochimilco in Mexico City. It is said that its owner Don Julián Santana Barrera had failed to save a girl from drowning, and would spend the rest of his life hanging dolls to appease her spirit. He died in 2001. 


Photo credit: masthead Stock Adobe, teaser Dreamstime



52 Cities

My grandmother’s cakes



The art of gathering