My trip to the Valley was fantastic. I couldn't stop eating. My trip down there started well when I stopped at a gas station to fix the tarp I had placed over my mattress. I was moving a lot of my stuff to Austin. I was almost done fixing the tarp when a paisano walked over and asked if I needed help. I guess he saw me struggling. He was in a van, loaded up with bikes, toys, clothes, and a lot more, with about 8 other men. I found out they were all headed to Guanajuato.
You've seen them in you've traveled during the holidays on any major highway heading south. Paisanos are the folks who work in the States (usually Mexicans) and head back to Mexico for the holidays. Many of them have papers and many of them do not. It's much harder for a Paisano without papers to get back into the states, so they tend to travel less.
I don't know the numbers for how much money these folks send to Mexico (we've seen them before), or how many Paisanos head back, but it's chingos.
I think about Paisanos because when I was a reporter and President Vicente Fox had recently been elected he promised to help put an end to the corruption and violence against paisanos. Back in the day - this was the perfect time for Mexican officials to rip off their fellow countrymen. The fuzz knew the people heading back had money with them - so they would extort. I talked to many Paisanos and they always told me they were more afraid of the Mexican cops than the several thousands miles of travel. I think things are better now, at least I hope they are. I haven't heard of overwhelming complaints -- maybe because we're not listening any more or may because everything is better. Who knows.
My mom - probably wouldn't be considered a Paisana. She's lived in Texas for a long ass time, but she's on her way to visit my buelita in El Refugio. The reason - to drop off the "Ensure" milk she buys over here. It's good for old folks and in Mexico it costs chingos.