Sigiriya. I’ll give you a moment.
When you encounter a tricky new proper noun you should sound it out, out loud, right away. This applies equally to Dostoyevsky characters and World Heritage sites in Sri Lanka. If you don’t do this immediately you run the risk of reading a 500 page novel with the character “that name that starts with an A” or climbing “S-blah blah,” the ancient rock fortress.
As soon as we started up the letter-salad mountain we became a source of interest for the locals. As a revenue stream the possibilities were endless: perhaps we wanted an umbrella (of course it was raining) or a bizarre wooden book safe (Kalina’s interest was piqued) or we could hire a kid sherpa to carry our heavy, wiggly load up the mountain.
Then there were the selfies. Once we agreed to one, we had to pose with an entire class of local students, one after the other. They were sweet; we were patient.
Monolith climbed and historical significance researched, we thought we should expend one last burst of effort and learn how to pronounce the name of the place we had visited.
Just like you did at the start of this journal, right?