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Robin Groth, Vashon Island, Washington - March 2016
Have you been thinking about going to Cuba but have yet to find the right person to take you there? Look no further! His name is Jim Ryerson and he leads tours for Cuba Explorer. What makes Jim unique is that he has traveled to Cuba more than 30 times, studied the history and culture because he is passionate about the country, and goes above and beyond to introduce you to the people and places that he has gotten to know personally during these three decades of travel to a country he loves. As a journalist, author and a former television broadcaster in Los Angeles, Jim is always curious and if he doesn't have the answer to your questions, he gets the answer from his topnotch Havana team who you will meet upon your arrival and will be with you every day of your tour.
Jim introduced us to artists, organic farmers, veterans of war in Angola, and an 85 year old "clandestino" during the Revolution, now an economist, lawyer and professor. During this private meeting, our group gleaned a profound understanding of the life of this proud Cuban "diplomat" who is looking forward to what the immediate future may hold for his beloved country. And have I mentioned the restaurants, the "paladars" and the music? Just go - and do it NOW! Thank you Jim and Cuba Explorer for a "trip of a lifetime"!
Cecile Callan, New York - March 2016
A few people have asked for more information about how to go about traveling to Cuba. We had a terrific organizer who put it all together. Our tour was organized by former Los Angeles Television Newscaster Jim Ryerson, who has visited the island more than 30 times. He has produced 4 documentaries on Cuban life and culture, and has many contacts on the island, both with officials and ordinary Cubans.
Jane Clevenger Denver, Colorado - January 2016
What an adventure we had going with Veterans for Peace to Cuba! From the moment we landed we knew it would be a special week. We were so lucky to have Jim Ryerson leading us on this trip. His knowledge and ability to maneuver through diverse situations was excellent! He even set up an unprecedented meeting with veterans of the Revolution and we were able to speak one-on-one with them thanks to the interpreter he had arranged. As a retired US Army veteran, that was quite special. The diversity of our tour that Jim put together made for an entertaining and educational adventure.
US Army Retired
Loretta Young-Gautier, Denver, Colorado - January 2016
Cuba Explorer was the perfect way to experience Cuba. The Veterans for Peace tour provided an excellent cultural adventure by combining political and social appreciation with visual art, music, theater and history. Our Host, Jim Ryerson, made it easy and convenient by taking care of all the arrangements. He expertly guided us through travel procedures, acquainted us with the monetary system and social customs, and was extremely helpful communicating with the Cuban people. He enlightened us with a fresh understanding of American/Cuban relations through his knowledge and experience, and by arranging meetings with various dignitaries. But perhaps what stood out most to us was his friendly, accommodating and gentle demeanor. His commitment to our satisfaction and enthusiasm for all things Cuban made him truly a delight to have as our leader. We would highly recommend participating in his tours.
Jan Nichols, Denver, Colorado - January 2016
Thanks again for all your efforts to make our stay in Havana so memorable! I'm sure there were times when it wasn't easy and required some fancy footwork on your part! We had such a compatible group...everyone was very flexible and accommodating. Cuba is a beautiful country...full of surprises and sophisticated culture. We experienced such a well balanced view of the country. I think we covered a sampling of everything, and you excelled in sharing your knowledge and passion for Cuba...and your enthusiasm was definitely contagious! Anyway, thank you for being such a gracious host. I had a wonderful time and I look forward to visiting Cuba again in the future!
John Koehler, Appleton, Wisconsin - January 2015
This trip was a defining moment and a game changer for me and I have you to thank for it! I had some apprehensions about going, but you were patient and talked me through all my thousands of questions along with providing some previous contacts who were just as thrilled with trip that I was. You and I have not known each other long, but I consider myself pretty good at reading people very quickly...you are the real deal and the world could use more folks like you Jim.
From Catherine de Leon, Sunny Isles, Florida - January 2015
I traveled with Jim on the 2015 VFP tour, and was very impressed with his longstanding, firsthand knowledge of the country, and with his many contacts. I went on the trip alone, but found those traveling to be very open, and the country to be very friendly, inviting and easy to get around. . With Jimís assistance I was able to venture out on my own, never feeling unsafe. Any future groups traveling with Jim will have a thoughtful enlightening, and enjoyable trip.
Larry Ulm Stringtown, PA - January 2015
Thinking about all the great people we met and the company we enjoyed in Cuba! Wow! What a great place! Jim, you are a good leader and am glad you are taking more lucky people back. Maybe a Cuban road trip will be in the future....count me in!
Shannon Sullivan, Minneapolis, MN - January 2015
In January of 2015, my husband and I were fortunate enough to take a trip to Cuba with Veterans for Peace with my husbandís parents, led by the very knowledgeable and experienced Jim Ryerson of Hollywood, California. We were quite excited when it turned out that the day we were to land in Havana, Cuba, that US travel was officially open to this country that has been so long repressed by the US Embargo for over 50 years. We were the first plane to land with American citizens that had the go-ahead to do so, somewhat freely. It was an historical event; an event that I am so proud to have been a part of. Our arrival was genuinely embraced be the people of Cuba. Jim knew the 'ins -and-outs' of Havana and it's countryside and was very explicit about what we may encounter on our trip there as US visitors. We were also fortunate enough to have an excellent Cuba Guide on our tour bus, who was equally excited to have us in her country as we were to be there! Our trip was perfectly well rounded. We were introduced to the culture of the Cuban people as a whole; the arts, dance, music, education, religion, politics, agriculture, medicine, economics. Overall, Jim did a beautiful job by making certain we got an honest taste of Cuba. It was magnificent! As we ascended into the skies from Havana, I looked through tears out over its lush hills and countryside and whispered a wish of hope to its people and its culture. I know that the people of Cuba will continue to stand tall and proud. I will continue to do my part by sharing the most vivid and most human experience I have ever had. I left a little piece of my heart there.....until we meet again.
Albert Penta, Seattle, Washington - November 2013
Just a quick note to say thank you for everything that you did to make the Cuba trip a wonderful experience for us. Thanks for setting it up. Thanks for attending to all the little details. Thanks for helping out me and Kim on many occasions (especially that last night back in Cancun when I was feeling so bad - *fine now). I couldn't help but notice that so many times seeing you quietly helping out someone else. Thanks on behalf of everyone. Kim and I are both greatly inspired by the trip and are hoping to get back to Cuba again. We share your love of the Cuban people. In closing let me just say what an honor it was to have met you, and how much I appreciate you as the good, decent and beautiful human being that you are. Gracias, mi amigo.
Paz y Amor
Photos thanks to these Cuba Explorers!
Used by permission from the following:
Albert Penta, Eva Mortimer, Harvey Bennet, Michael Kearns, Leslie Bellis, Dan Simkowski, Kai Sullivan, Shannon Sullivan, Ron Staff, Joni Clemens, Larry Ulm, John Koehler, Catherine de Leon, Barbara Forslund, Greg Matheny, Jan Nichols, Jane Clevenger, Kristen Kluge, Loretta Young-Gautier, Peter Aronson, Steve Knox, Susan Knox, Ted Engelmann, Etta Ettlinger, Michael Todd, Wells Todd, Marcella Kriebel, Robin Groth, Cecile Callan, Brian Rooney