Marta and me and Piccolina

I was walking down an old street in an old neighborhood in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Brightly colored wooden gates lined the streets. There was no indication from the outside of what might be inside. It could be a yard full of flowers and a fountain, or a small business, or someone’s kitchen. It’s always a mystery what’s behind those doors, and so when you’re open, naturally I look inside.

Last week a door was open and I saw some clothes for sale so I walked in. It was then that I met Piccolina.

“Who is this?” I asked.

“It’s Piccolina,” replied a woman in Spanish in front of a sewing machine.

Piccolina was a fat little puppy with blue eyes and black and white spots. She was happy to meet me, and I was happy to meet the woman at the sewing machine because I had a square tablecloth that I wanted round. I had thought about taking it home to the States to do the modification, but it seemed like a lot of heavy fabric to haul back and forth when, by chance, I ran into someone like Piccolina’s mom. And now I had.

I explained my tablecloth situation as best I could, and it was clear from the woman’s nods and pantomime gestures that she understood the project. I agreed to bring it the next day.

“And then I see Piccolina!” I thought.

The next day I called, “Where’s Piccolina?” and the little dog came running, and the woman, whose name was Marta, also came running. I handed over my tablecloth and we agreed on a price that seemed far too low for the work required.

A few days passed and I came back. The floors had just been cleaned and Piccolina was not allowed on the floors until they were dry. She was being held by a young relative of Marta’s and that made her unhappy, which she indicated by chewing on my finger when I went to greet her.

“Oh no! Piccolina!” says Marta. She didn’t think Piccolina should bite customers, but they were just puppy bites, and the customer had asked for it.

The tablecloth wasn’t finished because Marta was coming up with something more complicated—and prettier—than I had imagined.

“Good!” I said, though I wasn’t quite sure what she was saying. I promised to come back in a few days.

“And then I see Piccolina again!” I thought.

The next time I arrived the tablecloth was finished, with fringe all the way around the edge that transitioned from one color to the other, with a mix of the two colors in between. It had taken a lot of time and effort, and I paid Marta more than she asked and said goodbye to Piccolina.

But not for good. Yesterday I dropped by, even though I had nothing to do with Marta.

“Piccolina, where are you? I called and she was easy to find as she was waiting at the dog gate that Marta had set up.

“Piccolina has a door!” I said.

“Piccolina ran down the street!” Marta tut tut.

The street is quiet and cobbled, so I don’t think Piccolina was in much danger, but I also imagine Marta was tired of running outside to pick her up.

“You are a naughty little dog! I informed Piccolina and Marta agreed.

You can say things like that to friends, and we’re all friends now – Marta and me and Piccolina.

Until next time,

Carrie Column Photos and other information can be found at

Carrie Classon Contributing Columnist

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