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TRAVEL AWARE – STAYING SAFE AND HEALTHY ABROAD (foreign office travel advice)
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Mexico's most famous ghost stories

For spine-chilling, eerie ghost stories that are guaranteed to make your hair stand up on end, those from Mexico will most certainly fit the bill.


The country's steeped in history, dating back to the Mayan rule which started around 2,000 BCE. This was closely followed by the domination of the Aztec empire that lasted until the Spanish invasion of 1519.


Wherever there are tales of bloodshed, tragedy, or a broken heart, there's usually some sort of dramatic ghost story. And Mexico is no exception to this particular rule.


The wailing woman

Crying for all eternity seems a heavy price to pay but this is said to be the fate of the wailing woman.

The story goes that many years ago a Spanish soldier married a young woman of indigenous descent. The couple lived happily and had two children. The problems started when, bowing to pressure from his wealthy family, the soldier left his beloved wife and married a Spanish woman from the Hidalgo class.

Such was the fury of the abandoned wife that she drowned their two children in a nearby river and then escaped to the forest, where she later killed herself. It's said that such was the enormity of her crime that her spirit still roams Mexico searching for her dead children.

If you hear a wailing sound when in Mexico, it mightn't be the wind in the trees – it might be the wailing woman.

The island of the dolls

A tale that's rather more recent in its origins is centred around Mexico City's eerie Isla de las Munecas.

A recluse by the name of Julian Barrera, who lived on the banks of a canal, noticed one day the dead body of a girl floating in the water accompanied by her doll.

Barrera claimed that he could hear the screams of the dead girl and, as a consequence, he hanged the doll amid the leaves and branches of the surrounding woodland to appease the spirit of the drowned girl.

Others joined Barrera in hanging dolls and today the trees on the small island is covered with thousands of them – the sheer number of whom present a spooky appearance.

And, if you're brave enough to take a walk here at night, you may well hear the whispers of these ghostly dolls accompanying you on your stroll.


La Planchada

If you're spending time in hospital in Mexico City, look out for a ghostly nurse. The words La Planchada meaning the ironed lady, and the phrase refers to a nurse that has been seen in hospitals around central Mexico.

The story relates to a nurse called Eulalia who was always immaculately presented when on duty with her crisply-ironed uniform.

Apparently Eulalia fell in love with a doctor at the hospital and they became engaged. All was proceeding well until the doctor left to go to a regular medical seminar held in another city.

The doctor failed to return from the seminar and Eulalia discovered that he had met and married another woman. Poor Eulalia went into a decline and started to neglect both herself and her work.

Following Eulalia's death, patients from central Mexican hospitals reported seeing a ghostly apparition on the wards. This spectral nurse is said to heal the patients she appears before. Other versions of the story claim that the original nurse was cruel and consequently doomed to care for patients for eternity.

The Aztec Cihuateteo

Crossroads can become spooky places at night, especially as so many ghost stories in so many cultures have emanated from these places.

In Mexico it's believed that the mysterious Cihuateteo beings haunt crossroads across the country.

They are said to be the spirits of Aztec women who died in childbirth. On certain nights of the year they haunt crossroads in search of children to possess or to kidnap, leaving a sacrificial knife as evidence of their activities.

Cihuateteos are also blamed for men's adultery and other misbehaviours. They usually have clawed hands and wear golden earrings, a voluminous multi-coloured skirt and black shirt. If you happen to be wandering near a Mexican crossroads and see such a pale-faced creature, be warned.

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