Going by Gondola to the Island of the Dolls in Mexico City
Your gondola swishes stealthily through the water past all sorts of festive floating entrepreneurs: mariachi bands, souvenir stands, flower sellers, purveyors of snacks. On the more serene and natural lower canal of Xochimilco, you pass the floating gardens—Aztec remnants of a very different ancient Mexico City. Gliding onto the Isla de las Muñecas you enter another world. Everywhere you look are little eyes staring back from dolls—in varying states of decay, disarray, and dismemberment—tied to trees. There's a small sanctuary dedicated to the hermit who spent 25 years of his life salvaging dolls from the canals and trash to make this place. Some say he put them up to ward off spirits, to pay tribute to a dead child, or just for company. Even in a country where the border between the living and the dead is decidedly blurred, this is a startlingly eerie place.