Observation by a former paisana…

Ah yes, this weekend was the “big” weekend for paisano traffic. If you are of Mexican descent or live in Laredo, you are already familiar with who paisanos are. Those in the U.S. with strong ties to Mexico who visit Mexico, mostly by driving, during the holidays or summers. People like…. ME! Before moving to Laredo, that is.

Laredo getting ready for the paisano traffic to cross the bridges

These last few years have been tough for the downtown area of Laredo because of the massive number of cars, trucks, trailers, buses and other vehicles driving across the border. The congestion has strangled regular Laredo traffic so this year, El Partner and I decided not to get gridlocked in and took a trip out of town. We saw Laredo bracing for the impact with activities like the Farmer’s Market moving to a week before, signs going up to direct traffic and stores preparing not only for the last minute shoppers but paisano shoppers too (oh, & shoppers from Mexico too!).

And then…

It was just a trickle :(.

Paisano Rest Area as seen on their 1st day as El Partner & I drove North on I-35

Paisano Rest Stop late Saturday night as we drove South on I-35 towards Laredo

We checked out the Paisano Rest Stop that the Laredo Convention & Visitors Bureau in cooperation with the Consulado Mexicano (Mexican Consulate) and other agencies set up every year to help paisanos with some of the documentation needed, as a resource for questions and to provide a hot cup of coffee and snacks for the travelers. I’m not saying they were not full and well utilized, I was just surprised that in returning, the downtown area was not as packed as in previous years. I actually had no problems with traffic on Sunday when in past years, I’ve thought of setting up a taquito stand to sell to the long lines of traffic waiting for hours to cross. Maybe more travelers chose to take the Colombia bridge or… maybe many past paisanos are not wanting to risk the potential violence they might encounter if they travel to Mexico in its current condition.

I wrote about my father and his compadres traveling last year at this time and my perception that traffic had not been as heavy in past years. It seems even lighter this year – except… the Paisano Rest Area is reporting to NBC’s Pro8News the same number of people served as in the past (clip not yet available).

The early Sunday traffic on Bridge #2 in Laredo - looks like a normal day instead of what it was like for this weekend last year

Hmmm, doesn’t seem like it or maybe travelers did take another bridge besides #1 and #2 that go through the heart of Laredo. Or maybe travelers have just chosen to stay in Laredo and camp out at the Walmart parking lot (there seemed to be no parking spot available anywhere!) and they plan to surprise us on Monday?? Or maybe it was Laredo residents like me who decided to check out the Paisano Rest Area and unintentionally inflated their numbers in exchange for free coffee – just kidding, just kidding.

Who knows – the bottom line is that there were plenty of people from “up North” as well as people coming in from “down South” who packed Laredo stores but not Laredo streets (well, not to the level seen in past years). Unfortunately for me, they don’t include my family – not this year.

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About Que Fregados

Que Fregados is a quirky look at little things that strike us funny in Laredo and the unique Latino culture. Suggestions and comments are welcome. You can also email to quefregados@gmail.com.
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6 Responses to Observation by a former paisana…

  1. critters and crayons says:

    I actually had no idea that the term “paisano” referred to holiday travelers! Thanks!

    • Que Fregados says:

      Oh, sorry, Tricia – I should have been clearer. It doesn’t refer to travelers, it is actually someone with ties to Mexico. I’ve always known it as slang. One person calls another person his “paisano” because they are from the same country. But it was made popular with the paisano program from Mexico – this is the link but… it’s in Spanish, sorry http://www.paisano.gob.mx/ The idea was that the paisanos in the US might need help, especially when traveling. So this program has emergency assistance if say, something happens on one of the Mexican highways or to guide you if you are importing a vehicle to MExico (very popular since cars are astronomically expensive in MX). So, paisano is more like… your countryman (pais = country). Its also popular in Italian. Hope that explains it better!!

  2. ___Socrates says:

    ___”Paisano” means simply that two people share the same country of Origin, Orale, eres mi
    “paisa” (short for paisano) de mi pais, It is not exclusive to mexicans but can be used by italiano’s, south americano’s, or any other country. Mexican government just put it in place so that they could get away from having people stop using or confusing it with the Bracero Program of yesteryear.

  3. ___Socrates says:

    ___another thing, you will always remain a paisa to your home country, there is no adoption of a new country to become “paisa” from, therefore the term “former paisa” it irrelevent,illegal, illogical and an Oxymoronic terminology, you are a “paisa” forever and ever to the country that saw you take your first breathe

  4. critters and crayons says:

    ALright, QF. I’m adding that word to my border spanish post about things they didn’t teach me in school. haha! Paisano, I inferred, meant “friend”…but didn’t know the deeper colloquial meaning. Thanks, though! haha!

  5. Anonymous says:

    My theory is that the $400 permit fee to cross your car for tourist purposes also had a little to do with the slow down. I got one the first weekend in December. They say if you return it that you get your money back. I will let you know if they do soon.

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