KUALA LUMPUR, Katiravan Subarayan, a retired Malaysian, adds Venezuela to his list of countries visited, marking his 41st destination in a remarkable global motorcycle journey promoting environmental awareness and national pride. Travelling on his BMW R 1200cc GSA motorcycle, affectionately named 'Parameswara', Katiravan shares his experiences and encounters in the Latin American nation with Bernama. While Venezuela is often associated with poverty, gang-related violence and drug cartels, Katiravan, 63, found warmth and friendship in the South American nation. He was pleasantly surprised by the welcoming attitude of Venezuelan immigration officers at the Colombia-Venezuela border, which expedited his entry process. As he journeyed 240 km further into northwestern Venezuela, reaching Maracaibo, Katiravan was struck by the city's stunning high-rise buildings and vibrant landscapes, pulsating with life and colour. However, finding fuel became a challenge in Maracaibo. Despite numerous gas stations, scarcit y led locals to sell gasoline in bottles along roadsides. This fuel shortage, paradoxically, resulted in fewer vehicles on the roads, making Katiravan's ride safer and reminiscent of a leisurely Sunday cruise. Navigating the economic crisis made worse by the international economic sanctions led by the United States, Katiravan encountered restrictions in withdrawing money from the automated teller machines (ATM), limiting his withdrawals to VES 800 (RM 106) at a time due to stringent cash withdrawal limits. During his stay in Maracaibo, Katiravan was graciously hosted by Yoratzy Reverol, a practising lawyer and motorcycle enthusiast he had befriended in Colombia. Yoratzy, a proud owner of four superbikes, is a member and one of the leaders of the biker group 'Diamante Rojo MG', with her friend and housemate, Sol, who rides a Kawasaki 650cc. The group warmly welcomed Katiravan by arranging a surprise belated birthday celebration for him along with two other members, as his birthday falls on April 15. Touc hed by their kindness, Katiravan expressed his gratitude, emphasising his astonishment at being remembered and celebrated so far from home. Eager to learn about his journey, many members of 'Diamante Rojo MG' engaged with Katiravan, some having read about his adventures in a Spanish news article. Reflecting on the unexpected turn his life had taken, Katiravan recalled celebrating his previous birthday with a friend in Melbourne, Australia. Little did he imagine that this year, he'd find himself celebrating on the opposite side of the globe. The highlight of his Venezuelan stay came on Thursday night when Yoratzy orchestrated a grand biker gathering in his honour. Welcomed by over 120 riders, Katiravan was met with applause and admiration, an experience he described as unforgettable. Amidst exchanging biker stickers and capturing memorable moments with newfound friends, Katiravan delivered a speech, sharing snippets of his journey. He concluded by expressing his profound gratitude for the warmth and hosp itality he received, deeming it a beautiful chapter in his extraordinary adventure. Continuing his commitment to environmental stewardship, Katiravan visited Maracaibo's Botanical Garden (JBM) on the morning of April 20. Joined by fellow bikers and the Chairman of JBM, they planted a tree, marking the 67th tree planted during his global journey to raise environmental awareness. Katiravan expressed his deep gratitude and affection for his hosts, sharing that he found it difficult to part ways with Yoratzy and her family in Maracaibo. Over six days, they provided him with accommodation and hospitality without any charge, leaving an indelible mark on his heart. As he bid farewell to Maracaibo, Katiravan set his sights on Cabimas, located approximately 51km away. His route led him to the shores of 'Lago De Maracaibo', one of the largest lakes in South America. Crossing the impressive 'General Rafael Urdaneta' bridge, spanning nearly 9km, Katiravan continued his journey, eager to explore new horizons while cherishing the memories and friendships forged in Venezuela. Source: BERNAMA News Agency