This particular time I found myself floating down the canals in the heart of Mexico city. My gracious hosts had wanted to take me to see the floating gardens, as of now the name eludes me. We did not end up there anyway, but found ourselves in one of the strangest and most bizarre places I have ever seen. Here we were on this small boat, going along this isolated 'land of the lost' canal in the bustling city of Mexico, surrounded by fields of different crops, cows, and white heron. I was reminded of the Felucca boat rides on the Nile....
It was the kind of surroundings that allowed you to imagine you were back in time, when life was simple, quiet, and you could almost daydream about how it would have felt to be alive back when the Aztecs, and Mayans were still dominating the land here. There was a pristine calm to it all. I mused over the fact that even in the midst of one of the worlds largest cities, we kept finding our way to these places where the city disappeared off the horizon. First the circular pyramid, and now the canals. Every now and then we would pass another boat filled with people partying, laughing, drinking and eating dinner on the quiet still waters. They would wave hello, and we would be on our way. As a foreigner I had been met with nothing less then sincere warmth by the Mexican people. It is a beautiful country.
Our driver steered us over to what looked like a boat launch of sorts, built back in the 1950's and only minimally tended to over the years. He began to tell us a story of a man who had lost his mind and had moved out here to this island to live in isolation. A man named Don Julian was haunted by the sounds of a local girl who had drowned near the island. He filled the island with dolls to protect it from the evil spirits. Don Julian has since died, but his nephew still runs the island. Even after Don Julian's passing, dolls are still placed there for protection. He had spent his life collecting dolls and stuffed animals that had been thrown away. He believed that the spirit of the dolls protected him. So he had managed to cover his island with the dolls. There was of course, a soda and snack shop on the island, I was convinced there was a soda and snack shop everywhere in Mexico.
When I first got off the boat and walked the length of the landing, I felt like I had entered a different dimension. Some living breathing twilight zone episode, filled with ghosts of Chucky, all of them potential characters for some cheesy horror movie. They were everywhere. In the trees, tacked and nailed into branches, hanging from every nook and cranny possible. Their eyes empty, their faces broken, and their once brilliant and beautiful dresses now gray rags which looked like at any moment would turn to dust if the wind blew hard enough. We were all speechless. No one greeted us. We just got off the landing and walked around. It felt as if we were in some cheap wax museum. I was surprised they weren't charging admission. Yet this place wasn't about the tourist. It wasn't built as an attraction.
It was built by the mind of a man who believed in what he was doing. Who went out with intent to find and save each doll who had been carelessly thrown away after they were no longer needed, loved or wanted. Like abandoned children with no one to take care of them, he had seeked them out offering a place for them to go. I joked about it being like the island of lost toys in the popular children's Christmas story, Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer. How the unwanted toys waited hoping someday to find a child to love them. I even wondered at one point, what had happened to my Barbie's and dolls I had treasured when I was a little girl. Where were they? What had become of them? As I slowly walked around, I started to look at each doll differently. Each one seemed to still have some life in them.
They seemed glad they were here somehow and not buried in a landfill somewhere. Here they were seen. Still acknowledged. Not shoved deep down somewhere where no one would ever see them again. It reminded me of the lost aspects of self that we try so hard to cover up and forget and bury in a land fill within our minds hoping they never surface again. Those parts of ourselves that we no longer love and care for. Sometimes intentionally, and sometimes unconsciously. Each doll represented the past, a time forgotten. Each one carried an energy of a memory of happy times filled with love, now forgotten, discarded and lost.
At first I was a bit repelled by the island. However as I walked around and left the group I began to see there was a message in all of this madness. A message you could only see if you were able to get through the initial fear of the place. I heard the words, we are not lost or forgotten, we only wait to be found and loved again. That was when it shifted for me. I felt a swirl of energy lift the ugliness of this place, and replace it with a quiet beauty of decomposed regeneration. Death Mother and her sister Crazy Woman owned this island. Both with hard lessons to teach, but in the end, it was there if you could get pass the fear.
I thought about my own childhood, and how as a culture, how many of us adults forget our inner child, and leave it to be hung on a tree, perhaps here, forgotten and unloved. How we can lose our imaginations, and become ingrained to the indoctrinated workings of life, thinking that in leaving behind our childlike aspects, we are in fact doing a good thing.
If you take a look at how you treat children in your life, you will see a reflection of how you treat your own inner child. The relationship you have with children is the relationship you have with your inner child.
Healing the inner child, heals a kind of innocence that is a shield against a kind of darkness in the world today. How can we change our realities, ourselves, our relationships and manifest what we want if we can not IMAGINE the change? Imagination belongs to the realm of the inner child. Like this lost island in the maze of canals, it can be a challenge to find, and when we do find it, we have to overcome the fear, and then the sadness and emotions it provokes in order to reclaim it.
The man who had made this seek and rescue mission his life purpose knew that peoples fear would keep them away from him, and in the end it was a kind of protection. I would guess he also knew only those truly connected with their inner child would be able to enter. It was a small doorway, portal, in to his world, and for those brave enough you could find it.
I found some of the pictures I took here strangely beautiful. As I looked at each of the photos I took, it was almost as if the dolls looking back were indeed alive. Excited to be seen once again.