With a heavy heart I learned today that Sara Dootz from Viscri has moved into eternity.
She was the oldest Saxon lady in the village and for many years she took care of the most picturesque fortified church of Transylvania, opening its gates for tourists. Her friendship with Prince Charles and their letters exchange was something she was proud of. The Prince was striked by the same thing like many other thousands of people who had the privilege to watch her presenting the church of her community, her authenticity. She was telling simple stories about her life in Viscri without filtering them through the lenses of political correctness of the XXI century. She was not trying to impress, nor captivate, nor sensibilize her audience; she was being herself and that made her captivating, different somehow and authentic.
The picture above is from the summer of 2015, almost 7 years ago, when Viscri was far less accessible than today but way more authentic. The road from Bunesti to Viscri was one of the worst in Romania, with a million potholes, winding through the green hills and sided by two lanes of old poplars filled with mistletoe.
I met Sara Dootz for the first time in 2009 through her oldest daughter Caroline Fernolend who was running Mihai Eminescu Trust, the first Romanian charity patronised by Prince Charles back then. I had the privilege to work for this Foundation for a while and maybe because of this Sara was trusting me with the keys of the church in the cold winters when I was bringing off season tourists from Sighisoara to Viscri.
I will forever be grateful for her trust that allowed me the chance to give some of the most memorable tours of my life sometimes at -25C.
Her death is a great loss for Viscri, a village that was completely unknown and hardly accessible throughout most of her life and now, the most famous and visited village of Romania.
I will forever remember her image at the window of her house at no. 141 every time when I will repeat some of her stories to my future tourists.
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