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Thursday, August 7, 2008

En Busca De La Isla De Las Muñecas

Follow this link to flickr. We have lots of photos there!

After a labyrinth of cab rides and misdirections from scam-minded local profiteers, a tattooed metal head sitting on one of the embarcadero banks with his very unmetal girl friend told us to take a cab to a ruined bridge a town away in the middle of a field. The bridge, Puenta de Rutia, perched like a pronounced non sequitor on the bank of the 40 km network of canals choked by Lidias, a water flower that locals harvest to sell for charming table settings.

Armado, in army green slacks and buttoned shirt offered us a three hour raft ride to La Isla de Las Munecas for a fraction of what embarcadero hustlers elsewhere had requested for a tour (with Mariachi singers!) to a replica of the island of mutilated, lost and reconstructed dolls built as a shrine to a dead girl and addended with more naked, netted plastic tots after the death by heart attack of her aunt years later on the same site, an island that couldn't be more than 30 meters long by 20 wide.

Armando carried us about six kilometers to the isla on what amounted to a Mexican gondola fitted for 15, painted geometrically in primary colors with an awning that didn't have the "Felicidades Americanos!" message sported by most other of the tourist-aimed rafts. He pushed us down the river with a wood pole.

The domain of the hustler guides is actually completely cut off from the "ecological perseve" side by an electric lock that controls water levels for both sides. This means that whatever Mariachi band led romp through the replicated Isla De Las Munecas on the tourist side is completely separated from the "real" thing (and it costs about 150 bucks more to get there, too, thanks to the aggressive guides who herd most of the pliable extranjeros onto their rafts).

Anyway,look at the pictures. For 10 pesos a piece, we entered the shrine, heard the history (in rapid fire Spanish) and were allowed freedom to wander the tiny slip of land where he also grew flowers and cooked salsa verde over an open fire pit. Was it some sort of Heart of Darkness fulfillment on our side? Natives following along the banks, a guide, the solitude of strange waters, and an inscrutable, gloomy attraction miles, or in our case kilometers, from the rest of our known world? There were human heads on posts, for chrissake. And even if they were plastic heads fished from the river, they were intended to charm spirits with whom we'd never associated.

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