Teresa Rodriguez Williamson is the author of “FLY SOLO: the 50 Best Places for a Girl to Travel Alone” and the founder of Tango Diva.com, a famous travel site dedicated to empowering women to travel solo by providing the right resources and information: airlines, hotels, restaurants, night live, shopping and more! She regularly meets with the movers and shakers of these industries to find quality information for Tango Divas across the globe. Since we are traveling across Africa in our April Africa Music issue, it only made sense we knock at this Diva’s door to talk about travel and the entertainment business. A lucky Ladybrille reader will win an autographed copy of “Flying Solo” from Teresa! Teresa is also offering all readers and friends of LADYBRILLE.com a discount to a very exciting conference and fun time in Cancun for $1999! The conference takes place June 21st-28th. When you sign up, be sure to tell them Ladybrille sent you!
LADYBRILLE.com: Hey Teresa! How are you?
Williamson: Fabulous! I am [at] the greenroom at ABC Channel 10. I will be doing my regular “travel expert” segment in the next hour.
LADYBRILLE.com: Okay so let’s talk Tango Diva. You are all about letting women know it is okay to “fly solo” and empowering them with the right resources. Tell us how Tango Diva came about? Williamson: I went through a really bad divorce in my twenties and instead of continuing to see a psychiatrist who wanted me to go under 24-hour inpatient care because I got so depressed, I decided to go to London. It was the best decision I made because it gave me a chance to “get out of myself” and see the world through different eyes. I moved to Australia, modeled and worked on a game show where I got to travel through Australia first-class while staying at 5-star hotels. I ate meals alone and I learnt to spend time by myself and not feel any stigma about it. I started sharing my knowledge with my friends and they all said I should write a book. I never followed through, until I was flying home from Machu Pucchu and we lost an engine of our plane. The cabin filled with smoke and I realized that this could be “IT”; and I never did what I really wanted to do – which was write a friendly book that inspired women to travel the world alone and gain the confidence to fulfill their dreams when they get back to their daily life.
LADYBRILLE.com: Whoa! What a story. How come you encourage women to fly solo, especially after such experience, and when we are constantly told to be afraid of everything in today’s world? Williamson: Ironic, right? Because, “fear” is False Evidence Appearing Real and my mission in this life is to bring clarity, truth, and joy to the art of travel. Most of the “things” we are afraid of, we can’t justify. So, I challenge women to find truth in their fears and to work through them. Travel is my metaphor for change – and through travel there are specific steps that women need to take to be safe, sane, and solvent. That is what my next book is about “Body, Mind, and Solo: The 7 Steps to Successful Solo Travel.” There are places women should not go, that is the truth. So, through a few simple steps women can travel without being afraid.
LADYBRILLE.com: What are the most beautiful places you’ve visited? Williamson: Oh, what a question! I love Thailand. The people are so friendly, the food is out of this world, and the shopping is amazing! I also love Playa del Carmen on the Mayan Rivera – South of Cancun.
LADYBRILLE.com: What is a must have travel item when globe trotting? Williamson: A pashima wrap for the plane and to keep the night chill away. Melatonin to adjust to the different time zones, eye drops and moisturizer, my iphone with books on tape and fun music, my blow up pillow, eye mask, and ear plugs for the plane.
LADYBRILLE.com: I saw one of your clips where you were saying places like Africa can be unwelcoming towards women. Could you let us know which African countries you visited so they know next time to receive you better? Williamson: Ah, thank you. I went to Egypt and I interviewed close to 50 women who traveled throughout Africa. Those who traveled alone said they would not do so again. But the ones who traveled in groups felt safe.
LADYBRILLE.com: I remember when you started TangoDiva.com. It seemed like yesterday. Look at you now! What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned along the way in starting and managing Tango Diva? Williamson: I learned what I am good at, and what I am not. I love writing, mentoring, and inspiring women to follow their dreams. I am not good at managing staff, dealing with day-to-day operations of a company nor do I enjoy writing html code for the website. BUT, if you want to start a business, you need to know how to wear many hats, get down and dirty, and work harder than you ever had before. I also learned how much I like making money!
LADYBRILLE.com: So on point! [laughs]
LADYBRILLE.com: Part of the travel experience is definitely culture whether through music, art, food and fashions. Tell us some of the best music you’ve sampled. Williamson: My first introduction to fusion was a decade ago at the Buddha Bar in Paris. Since then, I have enjoyed the mixes that have come from Monte Carlo DJ’s, Caribbean-African beats from Puerto Rico, Brazilian Sambas with deep spiritual rhythms. One of my favorite moments in travel was when I was in Iceland and a group of Icelanders sang me a Viking Lullaby called: Ridum Ridum – A Sprengisandi. It was a song about trolls and fairy while men rode home on horseback.
LADYBRILLE.com: [laughs] What about food
Williamson: I love spicy! Mexican and Thai are my favorites, but there is nothing as delicious as homemade white truffle pasta with a glass of Chianti at the Four Season in Milan.< LADYBRILLE: I am sooooooo jealous! Let’s talk fashion! Whoo hoo!
Williamson: Shopping girl! Well, I wrote a fashion article for Marie Claire so I was able to go shopping around the world! I had a pair of silk-satin shoe made in Milan at a small boutique called Veronik. I love Bangkok for custom-made suits, London for more shoes, Stockholm for Filippa K jeans sexy skinny jeans, Barcelona for colorful leather handbags, Italy for furs, and Berlin for up-and-coming funky fashions.
LADYBRILLE.com: Have you ever sampled any African fashions?
Willamson: No. I need to. Set me up!
LADYBRILLE.com: I got your back girlfriend! Get on Ladybrille blogazine and check out the fashion, accessory designers you like on the right side bar. Let me know which ones you like and I’ll put you in touch with them. Maybe you can work some of your favorites on your TV show? Just let me know which one you like! Some are based in the USA.
LADYBRILLE.com:What are some of the African fashion trends you like?
Williamson: Color and texture. I met Wangari Mathai, she won the Noble Peace Prize in 2004 for the work she is doing in Kenya. When her tribe of women walked into the room, the energy sizzled. The dresses they were wearing were all handmade with brilliant colors, and all the women wore amazing BIG jewelry. The sense of price and beauty was breathtaking. Many of the islands in the Caribbean boast great fashion trends from Africa, like bright flowing skirts and matching head-wraps. I love it!
LADYBRILLE.com: What about African food? Ever tasted any?
Williamson: Ha! You would think that I would have but besides Moroccan and Egyptian, I have not. Do you have any recommendations for me in San Francisco?< LADYBRILLE.com: In San Francisco, I have heard good things about Massawa in the Haight which is an Ethiopian Restaurant.
LADYBRILLE.com: Thank you so much Teresa. You already know I am a travel junkie so will maybe see you on one of those lovely trips.
Williamson: I hope so! I will be in Cancun on June 21-28, I would love to have your readers join us!
LADYBRILLE.com: Will let them know. Sounds like an awesome time! Thanks again Chica for giving us a bit of your time.
Williamson: Thank you!
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A running feature for 12 years on Ladybrille.com, The ‘Ladybrille Woman of the Month’ celebrates women in business and leadership, who empower themselves and others through their contributions and actions in their local and international communities. In 2014, the feature expanded to include a podcast show. If you would like to nominate a woman to be celebrated, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.