Today was definitely the most interesting African History class we've had all year. Right now we're learning about medieval Africa, with the class divided up into 3 little groups: one for the Ghana Empire, one for the Mali Empire, and one for the Songhai Empire. I'm on Mali. Each group is in charge of teaching the rest of the class about the group's empire, through countless little projects and educational ploys.
SO. There we were hunched around tables, slaving away over our Ibn Battuta and Mansa Musa, when I looked up (and it WAS me that looked up first) and saw a bull tortoise in the doorway.
Our school has kind of a history with tortoises. I am told that the year before last, tortoises ran wild on campus. Some of them charged hapless students and teachers, and knocked them down, or bruised them. Our tortoises are pretty big. Last year, however, elementary school raised a ton of money and built them a sanctuary (with brick walls that go down for something like a meter underground, so they can't dig out). The idea is that they are safely contained.
So much for that. The tortoise entering our classroom was a new arrival to the school, and the biggest one yet. I don't actually know how big it is. Somebody said 3/4 of a meter squared. It must weigh at least as much as me, if not twice that. It was kind of getting stuck on the doormat, so it waved its flippers around a lot and tried to drag itself through. I said something like, "Oh my GOSH!"
All the other people in my group looked up, too, and must have reacted in an entertaining manner (I almost wish I'd been watching them). We rushed up to the entrance to get a better look, as did most of the rest of the class. One boy claims he thought it was a bird at first. Our teacher, deep in her own thoughts in a dark corner of the classroom, suddenly came to attention, and said in a peeved voice, "What are you all DOING?" (She had spent much of the class exhorting us to focus on our work.) Then she saw the tortoise, too.
Tortoises can't turn around, or at least refuse to do so. This meant that to get it back outside and into the sanctuary, it had to be carried. A couple of students grabbed the shell from either end (the tortoise, not so brave now, hastily pulled in its head) and hoisted it in the air. We all trailed after them as they lugged it across campus, attracting a little parade of maintenance workers, along with the chemistry teacher.
Our history teacher made indignant comments to the maintneance workers ("It was in my ROOM!"), but we could tell she was just as happy to be out of class as we were. Thank goodness for bull tortoises.