the gondolas so got this


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It was a vacation of a lifetime. You and Changkyun finally saved up enough money to go to Venice, Italy. You’ve been wanting to go for a while, telling him that it was one of the cities you want to visit before you die. Then one day, he came home and showed you the pair of plane tickets he bought to Venice. 

“Are you serious?!” You squealed in delight. “We fly out tomorrow evening!” He told you excitedly, flashing the tickets in your face. You jumped on him and kissed him non-stop until he reminded you that you have less than twenty four hours to pack.

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When NPR photographer David Gilkey was headed off to Cuba to shoot some of our stories, I told him, as his photo editor, that there was one cliché he should absolutely avoid: cars.

He talked about it with weekend host Scott Simon (which you can listen to above). Our conversation was a little different.

Kainaz: So David, we sent you to Cuba with one very specific directive: No cars. (Well, that and cigars.) Remember?

David: Yes, I remember us doing a Google search of “Havana” and seeing nothing but vintage Fords and Chevys from the ‘40s and '50s. We laughed because it was absurd.

Kainaz: Yes, and I said, under absolutely no circumstances, no matter what, were you to photograph cars. Verboten. Don’t even think about it. Don’t even look at them! It’s like shooting gondolas in Venice. SERIOUSLY, NO CARS. So what happened when you got there?

David: Here’s the thing: Cuba’s cars are impossible to ignore. It’s like seeing a celebrity and trying not to stare. They run through the streets, not so quietly, in bright colors, carrying sometimes half a dozen Cubans from place to place. Maybe you aren’t a car lover. Maybe you love bikes. Imagine showing up in a city and almost everybody is riding vintage Schwinns.

We Said, “No Car Pictures.”

Photo Credit: David Gilkey/NPR