The city of Laredo sent this info to share:
Media Partners: Please stress to the Paisanos that Colombia Bridge is free and clear, with no traffic congestion there. Right now, they are all converging on Bridge II, causing that major traffic jam.
In case you hadn’t heard, traffic is really backed up downtown. This wasn’t anything the City of Laredo hadn’t planned for; it’s just that the traffic congesting is coming a lot earlier than expected. If you haven’t already, please start reading the PSAs about the traffic, and please stress to drivers to be patient, courteous and safe. Laredo Police Dept. has been on the situation since yesterday afternoon, keeping intersections free and helping to facilitate traffic flow; it’s just everybody is trying to go to the same place – especially today since there are still so many people who work and go to school in downtown.
It is the season for Northerners to travel to Mexico. Contrary to popular belief, not all who head south are Mexican citizens. This year, my US citizen father traveled with his 2 US citizen compadres to visit family in Durango, Mexico. Of course, they went with all the begging and pleading from family members to not go but… three retirees wanting to check on properties and visit family are not stoppable. He said in the one week he stayed, there were 5 kidnappings of area businesspeople in the town. Luckily, they returned in one piece this past week. Whew! He says that it was such an eerie feeling to be in a town that is normally teeming with other paisanos around this time of the year but there was none of the usual visitors. That doesn’t mean people are not traveling, it just seems like so many more are cautiously staying in the US for the holiday season.
For those who are leaving for Mexico this weekend, get ready for the long lines and the craziness of the busiest paisano traffic time but… is it really as bad as before? The city is concerned about the long lines at the bridges but I remember at this time last year, I could not leave my house (I live close to the border) because there were paisano vehicles everywhere. That is not the case this year. Hmmm… Maybe tomorrow will be different – get ready Farmers Market held downtown, Laredoans are not going to want to deal with the traffic 😦
Laredo businesses do continue to welcome the visitors, despite the resentment some Laredoans have against them as expressed in the comments the LaSanbe blog recently got. Yikes! I used to be one of those paisanos before moving here too. Every Summer and Winter I, yes a US citizen, would pass through Laredo on my way to visit family in Durango and other states in Mexico. We would leave our money in local restaurants and hotels and maybe do a little shopping for the sweater we lost or toothpaste we forgot. Tourism money is what Laredo keeps clamoring for right? The problem with money from tourists and being a “destination” is that you never know when the economy falters or… Mexico gets all rough and violent.
Laredo prepares, though, and the Paisano Rest Stop is set to open today at noon and run until Sunday. I might tag along with a friend working the rest stop to check it out (I am missing the media walk-through, oh well). I remember how tired my family and I would be after driving the 24 plus hours just to get to the border. I am sure the Mexican Consulate’s presence will make things run so much smoother because of the help they provide with permits and reviews of documents.
For my friends coming from up North who are not heeding the Holiday Travel warning to NOT travel into Mexico, you know you always have your personal rest stop in my house. Give me a call if you need anything. For those I don’t know, the Paisano rest stop is setting up:
Paisano Rest Stop To Open Up
(Media walk-thru prior to official opening)
WHO: The City of Laredo Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Mexican Consulate General, together with a multitude of city, state and federal departments and agencies from both sides of the border, including the Department of Homeland Security through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the Texas Department of Transportation; Webb County, together with Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, MEX authorities, and other Mexican agencies, as well as the Nuevo Laredo Bridge department; Immigration; Customs; and Banjercito.
WHAT: Annual Paisano Rest Stop in effect for 48 continuous hours
WHEN: TODAY, FRI. DEC. 17, 2010, 12:00 p.m. – SUN. DEC. 19, 2010 at 12 PM (Official media walk-thru set for Friday at 11:30 a.m.; tent set-up to begin at 8 AM)
WHERE: South bound IH-35 at Mile Marker 13
WHY: Thousands of paisanos, Mexican nationals traveling south to Mexico for the Christmas and year-end holidays, come through the Port of Laredo and take advantage of the Paisano Rest Stop, a unique bi-national project now in its 13th year, offered only in Laredo, Texas. For 48 continuous hours, the rest stop is staffed with individuals from these various agencies, to help review all documents necessary to be able to enter the travelers, as well as any goods or vehicles they may be taking into Mexico. Additionally information about retail services in Laredo is offered, as well as directions, refreshments, restroom facilities and simply, an opportunity to stretch their legs before continuing on their journey.
Media are invited to see the rest stop in action on southbound IH-35 in action as these special travelers come through Laredo during their annual road trip.
I know my photos are missing and links are not there but I have to get ready to go fight the traffic (less than before but it still is tremendous). I will update later.