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Miller travels to Panama and Colombia

By Staff | Aug 26, 2016

View from Ancon Hill, part of Panama City and the Pacific Ocean.

Janet Miller has always loved to travel. She has visited several Spanish-speaking countries multiple times, which led to the decision of applying for permanent residency in Panama.

“The idea is that North Dakota iswell, it gets a little icy, and I would like to be elsewhere [during the winter],” Miller said. “Panama has this visa that I can get relatively easy and inexpensively, and I will have the right to live there permanently if I want to.”

Miller’s first visit was in 1998. She and her late husband traveled through the Panama Canal on a Princess Cruise. Since then, she has returned to Panama three times.

Miller said one of the things she likes most about Panama is the quality medical care.

“It’s an interesting country, and the city is a first world city,” she said. “It has some of the best medical facilities; doctors who have trained in the United States are down there. There are hospitals associated with Johns Hopkins, for example. They are as good as anything you can get in the United States, for a fraction of the cost.”

One of Miller’s fondest memories of her travels to Panama is a trip she took with Pat Bye a few years ago. The tour started from Panama City, went through the Panama Canal and visited the Gamboa Rainforest Resort, the Ember Village, a butterfly farm and the city of Coln. The tour ended back in Panama City and took them about a week to complete.

“It was great,” Miller said. “There’s a lot to dowe did some shopping, looked aroundwe were staying in 5-star hotels.”

Miller has great interest in learning Spanish and immersing herself in the language has helped her a lot. “It’s one way to learn Spanish, to get to any of these countries and really learn it,” she said. “You need to be embedded in the language where you have to use it. When it’s sink or swim, you learn to swim awfully fast.”

Miller continues to study Spanish while at home in Rugby, using both computer and DVD programs to keep her sharp. “I want to become fluent enough to argue with a taxi driver, that’s my goal,” she said.

During a visit to Mexico, Miller attended an accelerated course that will allow her to teach English as a foreign language, which is something she plans to do during her time in Panama.

Miller last visited Panama for two weeks this past spring, returning in late April. After a brief time at home, she left again for Colombia in early May. There, she visited a coffee plantation and flower farm and attended a conference on living and investing overseas.

Miller describes Colombia as very vertical, hilly country. Because of its location within the “Ring of Fire,” earthquakes can be common, causing landslides to happen. For this reason, roads are closed at 6 p.m. “There were a couple of times where we had to get through the pass in the daytime because if a landslide comes at night, you hit it before you see it,” she said.

The weather in these countries differs greatly from North Dakota. Miller says that temperatures there depend on elevation location. In Panama City, for example, people run the air conditioning all year round. “If you’re at sea level in most of the year, it’s a sauna. There’s water all around,” Miller said. “Go up into the hills, you need a sweater. [In] the really tall mountains, you can get snow.”

Something that Miller enjoyed greatly in both Panama and Colombia was the food. From fresh fruits and vegetables to rice, Miller says the food was delicious. “The food is wonderful! I loved it,” she said. “There are a lot of fruits that we don’t get here, different types of thingsthe food we had was very good. The foods I had were fresher, and the coffee was better in Colombia.”

Miller explains that just like in the United States, there are many different types of cultures in Panama and Columbia. Each of these cultures has their own unique way of life. This is, in part, why Miller loves to travel and see the world.

“There’s just so much to see and do and think about,” she said. “It’s the experience. In the United States, we tend to be provincial and think that the U.S. is the world, and it isn’t. [Panamanians and Columbians] have a totally different way of looking at things different culture, different attitude towards religion and politics. Stuff like that.”

Miller has plans to return to both Panama and Columbia soon, while taking up permanent residency in Panama during the winter months.

“It’s fun. I like to travel. I like to try different things. I’m not afraid to try different foods or talk to anybody. I travel as much as I can,” she said.

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