LatinaLista — While most states, in an effort to trim their budgets, are shutting down roadside rest stops — those isles of oasis on the side of the highway where one can stretch their legs, let whining kids and pets out to run off pent-up energy and, of course, the ever important restroom stop — Texas is bucking the cost-saving measure, at least for the next 48 hours.
From Friday, December 16 to Sunday, December 18, the only rest stop in the country that caters to Mexican nationals returning home for the holidays is in full operation in Laredo, Texas. Operating for the last 14 years, the Paisano Rest Stop is a bi-national effort to make sure people going to Mexico for the holidays have a safe and uneventful trip.
The City of Laredo Convention & Visitors Bureau works with the Mexican Consulate General to set-up the rest stop and staff it, from various state, city and federal departments and agencies, for 48 continuous hours. Under a designated tent, the staff greet travelers, review travel documents to make sure everything is in order, inspect packages and vehicles, hand out refreshments, maps, hotel listings and important information about the return trip.
One added feature that sets this rest stop apart from others in the nation is that there is even a mechanic on standby in case a car should need minor repairs.
The Mexican agencies working the rest stop also hand out information to travelers on how they can report crimes and complaints while south of the border and they make sure that anyone taking a car to leave in Mexico meets a new Mexican federal regulation for emissions control.
“Laredo welcomes paisanos,” said Laredo Mayor Raul G. Salinas. “We want their experience in Laredo to be positive, restful, and beneficial before they continue into Mexico. We host the Paisano Rest Stop to help facilitate their crossing experience here because Laredo, Texas does appreciate the work these Mexican citizens are doing in the United States,” Salinas concluded.