Greetings! My name is Jim Lewis. Welcome to my website. I am passionate about the country of Cuba and its people. Unfortunately, most Americans know very little about our nearby Caribbean neighbor less than a hundred miles south of Florida.
Cuba is in a very complicated prolonged situation that is difficult to understand and to follow. If you read a list of current headlines about Cuba, you can selectively choose articles to “prove” that Cuba is either heaven or hell on earth. Those who write these articles tend to be very polarized and overly-emotional, often making outlandish claims which simply are not true.
Rather than attempting to refute numerous unfounded claims by both extremes, I offer the following observations about Cuba today, during the summer of 2014: 1) Cubans love interacting with Americans, and Cuba is one of the world’s safest countries for foreign visitors. (How many other countries can be described this way?) 2) Polls have clearly shown that the majority of Cuban-Americans in Miami and south Florida want the U.S. Embargo on Travel and Trade to be stopped immediately. (Our travel groups leave from Miami. The day before departure, we’ll visit Little Havana in Miami. On past trips, we’ve talked with Cubans there, telling them we’re flying to Havana the next day. We have never received any negative reactions about our travel plans.) 3) Most Cubans in both countries are nationalists—they want the island, its people, and Cubans living abroad to work together to help build an economically strong, non-aligned nation–one with a potentially bright future in a world where so many other countries seem to be deteriorating and disintegrating before our eyes. 4) Americans have always been allowed to visit Cuba. (The U.S. State Department and Treasury Department have allowed travel under various guidelines, directives, and regulations created by the U.S. Congress. <Need I say more?> Like IRS regulations, also created by Congress, these laws have very little to do with national security, fairness, the people of Cuba, or an efficient economy. The bottom line is that if Jay-Z was qualified to visit Cuba in 2013, then EVERYBODY is qualified. By the way, Jay-Z is a hip-hop rapper performer who has made hundreds of millions of dollars while criticizing America—the country that made it possible for him to make hundreds of millions of dollars.)
I’ve been an RN for 40 years. My nursing license has facilitated my legal travel to Cuba many times since 1999. Most of my visits involved health care research. I’ve also worked in the travel industry, so I have combined these interests to facilitate research expeditions to Cuba. These trips provide a comprehensive and fun introduction to Cuban culture, history, and geography, with an additional emphasis on health care. I’ve facilitated six such research expeditions to Cuba in the last two years. To read about past trips and stay updated on visiting Cuba, click on CUBA TRAVEL NEWSLETTER. If you want information on upcoming expeditions, click on TOURS, then MY TOURS. Our ten-day expeditions in 2014 will be November 8-17, and December 6-15. This spring our trips will be March 14-23 and May 2-11, 2015. Click on CUSTOMIZED TOURS if you want to design your own expedition with me as coordinator. If you want to lead your own group, I would be happy to make suggestions. Click on OTHER TOURS for a list of American companies providing tours to Cuba. This page also explains the most important things to consider when selecting a tour company, and ways to compare their itineraries and services. Visit NURSING EDUCATION if you are an R.N. and want to receive continuing education credit for the expeditions focusing on health care. Click on TRAVEL, then INDIVIDUAL TRAVEL to find out more about visiting Cuba on your own. The LGBT TRAVEL page discusses topics that may be helpful to LGBT travelers. The FAQ’S button will take you to frequently-asked questions and their answers. Click on BIOGRAPHY (under the “Home” Button) if you’d like to know a little more about my background. CONTACT provides ways for you to contact me or anybody associated with Cuba Travel Surge. Click on PHOTOS to view a variety of photographs from Cuba (currently being edited and updated).
CUBA TRAVEL SURGE—You Can Visit Cuba Today, Safely and Legally
I encourage my fellow Americans to visit Cuba. It is fascinating, beautiful, friendly, and safe. Cubans love interacting with Americans. Although thousands of citizens have traveled there illegally over the past few decades, there have always been ways to visit without breaking any laws. Most Americans (and many travel professionals) today are not aware that travel to Cuba by Americans has greatly increased in the last 2 years. This surge has resulted in many tour providers being booked solid through winter of 2015. The few tours still available tend to be expensive, and their prices are steadily increasing, but I generally recommend a group tour for first-time visitors.
I am leading two research expeditions from Miami in the fall of 2014. My guests will see all the highlights of today’s Cuba, and they will meet Cubans whom I’ve known for years. Our get-togethers have resulted in truly personal people-to-people programs. All adults 18 years and older are eligible for these trips. I’ve really enjoyed facilitating them. On past trips, everybody felt that the highlight was personally meeting individual Cubans. We also thoroughly enjoyed walking around Old Havana at night, listening and dancing to excellent Cuban musicians literally on every corner. As required under U.S. Department of Treasury guidelines, we followed a structured program, but there was plenty of free time to pursue individual interests.
I routinely network with other Cuba fanatics to stay updated on the latest travel information. Since the 1990′s, travel regulations and enforcement levels have been continuously evolving. The Obama Administration has been much more cautious than expected, but in general there has been a slow and steady push forward towards normalization of relations, with occasional steps backward. Former President Fidel Castro is in very poor health, and will probably pass on relatively soon. President Raúl Castro has made many small changes to modernize the country. When considered together, these policies seem to be leading in a new direction—not an 180-degree reversal, but in a different, more moderate direction. On December 10, 2013, President Obama and President Castro greeted each other and shook hands in South Africa at the ceremony honoring the life of Nelson Mandela. There has been much speculation about the meaning of the handshake. Only time will tell. Even so, it is important to remember that for the past few years, Americans have actually been encouraged to visit Cuba by the Obama Administration—as long as the travel is legal and done with licenses. Some experts predict significant changes following the November mid-term elections in 2014. This will lead to an increased demand from Americans to visit. Tour prices will most likely increase dramatically. So please consider visiting soon. It is fascinating, friendly, and safe. You may witness history in the making.