We definitely saw all that, other than all the people (because apparently everyone disappears from the city for the summer, either to the mountains or the beach, to avoid the excessive heat). We felt very pleasantly surprised, though, to find the city to feel so peaceful and tranquil. We found open plazas, parks, walkways, benches, and sitting areas everywhere. People out walking or just sitting outside together, enjoying each other's company. We didn't realize that this captured a huge part of Spain's culture, something we'd end up seeing everywhere we went.
In between bus rides and train rides, we took as many pictures as we could, just to show that we really did spend a little time in Madrid. Sadly, I can't tell you what anything is. Laura's mom was an excellent tour guide, but I don't remember even half of what she told me. I just listened and took in as much of the scenery as I could. I still couldn't get over the fact that I was actually in Spain, somewhere I don't know that I ever even dreamed of going before we found out that Laura had moved there. If you've been to Madrid, maybe you've seen some of these sights.
We finally made our way back to the airport/train station to catch a train to our final destination, Zaragoza, Spain. Here we are, waiting on our train. This picture spoke volumes to me. Juan David and Laura are overlooking a small pond of turtles in the middle of the train station.
Turtles. Who knew what a foreshadowing this picture taken in 2008 represented.
(The only picture I ever had of me with both of them, overlooking a pond of turtles. The last time I ever saw her. Only God knew that the next time I would see her again, we'd find ourselves standing over another pond of turtles, 9 years later, in Madrid, Spain.)
We got on the train around 9 pm for an hour and a half ride to Zaragoza. Then we'd take a taxi from the train station to finally get to Laura's home. Two very long, tiring, exciting, emotional days of travel to get there. This beautiful sight awaited us as our taxi drove closer to drop us off. I couldn't believe we were actually there. It all felt so surreal.
Once we got to their home, got out of the taxi and entered her home, another surprise awaited me. They showed us the guest room, where I assumed I'd be staying. We put our suitcases in there, and her mom showed me an empty closet where I could hang my clothes for each day. She then explained that Juan would be sleeping in there, Laura would stay in her mom's room, and I could have Laura's room to sleep in.
Laura once had a room in my own house. I painted it for her. Decorated it for her. Hung bright orange curtains for her. Filled the closet with pretty clothes for her. Adorned the shelf with dolls and other toys for her.
I will never forget the day I fell to my knees and sobbed as I finally cleared out that closet and donated all the clothes that I wasn't able to send to her when I found out she would never occupy that room. She wasn't coming home to her room, after all. It took me nearly a year after the adoption failed to even be able to open that closet again and face the remaining contents.
But if that wasn't her room, then where was it? Where did God plan to send her? Would I ever know, or would I be left to wonder about her for the rest of my life until I got to heaven?
And suddenly, seven years later, there I was. In her bedroom. The one she did go home to. The one she did occupy. The one she did fill up with pretty clothes and cute toys. The one she grew up in and now began the early stages of her journey to womanhood in.
I could let the emotion of this moment overwhelm me. Or I could breathe it all in and realize God loved me so much that He perfectly arranged to give me this priceless gift.