LAREDO, Texas, Dec 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- For the past 15 years, the City of Laredo has hosted a Paisano Rest Stop to help Mexican citizens returning home from throughout the U.S. have a smoother experience as they head home for the holidays. This unique bi-national project is offered only in Laredo, Texas. The City of Laredo Convention & Visitors Bureau works with the Mexican Consulate General to set-up the rest stop; however, there are many city, state and federal departments and agencies from both sides of the border who come together to help the paisanos.
The Paisano Rest Stop will be at IH-35 southbound, just off Mile Marker 13, beginning Friday, December 20, at 12 noon and closing at 12 noon on Sunday, December 22, 2013. For 48 continuous hours, the rest stop has individuals who help review documents necessary for travelers, as well as any goods or vehicles they may be taking into Mexico. Information on bridge wait times, directions, simple mechanic help, refreshments, restroom facilities and simply, an opportunity to rest and stretch their legs is free and offered at the site.
Additional information given includes:
- Hotel and restaurant listings;
- U.S. Customs regulations for return trip;
- Legitimate nationalization processing business listing;
- Complaint and crime reporting procedures with Mexican Consulate and local agencies;
- Volunteer mechanic on-call to do initial inspection, minor car repairs;
- Mexican immigration regulations and forms;
- Free copies.
All is done with a smile and in Spanish. In fact, to help welcome the paisanos as they stop off at the rest stop will be Laredo's own Ambassadors, who will be a part of the volunteers providing helpful information and assisting in any way possible to help make their stop at the rest area a pleasant one.
"Laredo welcomes paisanos," said Laredo Mayor Pro Tempore Esteban Rangel. "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," Rangel concluded.
Motorists will see signage and hear radio messages posted from San Antonio on south. Local, state and federal officials patrol the roadside on IH-35 South, to offer assistance to paisanos that need help, including security, traffic control, and road side assistance. This year, the exit to the rest stop will be marked with extra signage and lights, especially for those traveling at night or who may not be familiar with the turn-off to the facility. Motorists who have not stopped before are encouraged to do so before continuing on their journey.
The Texas Department of Transportation is offering the Texas Travel Center, located on the north-bound side of IH-35 at Mile Marker 15 as an overnight parking facility with restrooms available 24 hours.
"Our effort to mount this city-wide welcome to Laredo and south Texas is to facilitate the travel experience and help our visitors have a safer and more positive time each year that they chose to come back through our community," stated Blasita J. Lopez, Laredo Convention and Visitors Bureau Director. "While we will offer a variety of services across town, overnight parking is of particular importance because we have traditionally seen our hotels fill to capacity. While we have planned to have open, secure areas of the community for the commuting visiting public to park overnight, I encourage all of our travelers to book a hotel reservation early so that they can benefit the most from the stop in Laredo before they continue their journey into Mexico."
Paisanos returning to Mexico through Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas should take Bridge I to avoid traffic congestion along IH-35 at Bridge II. Motorists exit Del Mar Exit #4 and will be on Santa Maria Avenue; follow Santa Maria south to Bridge I.
Along the alternate route to Bridge I, off of Santa Maria Avenue, the parking lot and bathroom facilities at Veteran's Field will be available to paisanos. Hours of operation are Friday, December 20 at 12 noon, through 12 noon on Sunday, December 22, 2013. Facilities will be available throughout the week leading up to Christmas, as well.
Additional overnight parking facilities will be available at the Laredo Civic Center, located at 2400 San Bernardo Avenue where portable restrooms facilities will be available. Thanks to the Laredo Independent School District, these parking lots will be patrolled by Laredo and L.I.S.D. Police.
However, for those motorists who do travel on Bridge II, portable restrooms will be located at key intersections along Santa Ursula.
Paisanos wishing to avoid congestion all together can take Colombia Solidarity Bridge (Bridge III) into Nuevo Leon. The extended holiday hours of operation for Bridge III will be: December 20 opening at 8:00 a.m. when it will begin operating continuously for 24 hours through midnight, Monday, December 23, 2013 and remain open until all traffic is processed.
New bridge rates for non-commercial vehicles have increased to $1.75 per axle, which comes out to $3.50 for each regular-sized car.
There have been changes to laws regarding Mexican citizens returning home to Mexico for the holidays, as well as for U.S. or other foreign nationals traveling into Mexico, concerning the documents they must have to facilitate this process. For more information, follow the link http://www.paisano.gob.mx/pdfs/Guiapaisano.pdf which can be downloaded on smart-phones, for up-to-date and accurate information.
Finally, paisanos should be aware that the limit of store bought goods that they may bring into Mexico from the U.S. has been increased to $500 for paisanos only, and also, only from now until Monday, January 6, 2014.
Paisanos making the trip through Laredo come from throughout the United States, including Texas, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Oklahoma, New York, North Carolina, and South Carolina, to name a few, citing the welcoming experience as they cross in Laredo and once in Mexico, the safety and ease of travel on the highway through this route.
For more information about the Paisano Rest Stop, paisanos should call the Laredo Convention & Visitors Bureau at 800-361-3360 or visit www.paisano.gob.mx.
SOURCE City of Laredo