Boston pilgrims enjoy a walking tour of Old Havana. Pilot photo/Gregory L. Tracy
HAVANA -- Michael Eizenberg is a man in love...with Cuba.
For the past 15 years, Eizenberg, through Educational Travel Alliances (ETA),the company he and co-worker Kathy Rice founded, has facilitated hundreds of visits to Cuba for U.S. citizens.
The groups have been varied -- some are 55-plus softball players looking to play ball against Cuba's finest retired baseball players; others are area Catholics looking to provide relief to needy Cubans.
"This is not a trip. It's an exchange," Eizenberg said of his work.
This past week, Eizenberg led a 17-person Boston-area delegation on one of those exchanges.
Combining tours of culturally significant sites with visits to Caritas Cubana relief programs, and culminating with attendance to the Papal Mass at Havana's Revolution Square, the group had the chance to get to know the Cuban people personally.
"To me, exchanges such as this are a great way to bring people to share memories, sing together, play dominoes, and get to know that we really are not that different from one another," he said.
"We may be politically different, but we are culturally entwined," he added.
Eizenberg is not new to the travel industry. He began working as a tour guide for high school students traveling to Europe four decades ago when he was a graduate student. That opened the door to a career of coordinating large groups of students on class trips to South America and Europe.