Lucia, The Frequent Flyer to Mexico

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A lot of people travel for work. But for Bronx resident Lucia Martinez, that means flying back and forth to Mexico every week.

On Friday nights, Martinez heads to Mexico City, carrying a half dozen suitcases full of presents that Mexicans in New York City are sending to their relatives back home. Then, by Tuesday morning, she boards a flight back to New York—her suitcases again full—this time with gifts from Mexico to family members in New York. The cargo is distributed from a storefront in the St. Lawrence section of the Bronx.

"Some people come over to New York without having any family here," says twenty-one-year-old Martinez. "So these packages help them feel less lonely."

Shuttling heavy and perishable items (often homemade food on the Mexico-New York route) isn't particularly practical, but Martinez gets the job done. A recent feat: 40 pounds of homemade mole sauce. The sauce was sent from a grandmother in Puebla, Mexico to her granddaughter in St. Lawrence.

The $200 courier charge aside, the Bronx family was happy.

"She couldn't be at her granddaughter's birthday party," Martinez says, "but her mole could be there."