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Friday, April 24, 2009

An American in Baja: K.C.

An American in Baja: K.C.
by Audrey Coffman

K.C. is a good man to know when economic times get tough. He is able to survive on little and is happy to share what he knows and what he has with his friends. One day he enthusiastically explained to me how liver is cheap and can be stretched to provide protein for days with a variety of preparations. To paraphrase songwriter Paul Simon, “there must be 50 ways to love your liver.”

As the proprietor of Lilyanna’s Day Spa here in San Felipe, K.C. provides a full-service shop, nurtures our need to feel good about ourselves, and lets his customers know that he values them as well as their business. He is a large, gentle man with sparkly eyes that tell you just what he’s thinking. His eyes may roll around in exasperation, but you sense right away that this is a kind and patient guy. When he talks, he is tactful, almost courtly. He speaks Spanish beautifully, fluently, and just listening to him urge his Mexican staff to provide the best service to clients reminds me of what a beautiful language it is.

My friendship with K.C. has deepened since I started taking my Aunt Frieda there. She’s 91, old-fashioned (still does the “perm” thing) and, because she must remove her hearing aids prior to the shampoo, almost deaf. He is incredibly patient with her. He translates the conversations going on around her and shouts in her ear, so she won’t feel left out or insecure. He explains every step of her treatment. He’s told her, "Hey, if we’re going to put polish on your toenails, for God’s sake, make it RED." No wishy-washy pinks for Tia Frieda. She loves him and the attention he gives her. I love the smile on her face as we leave.

When I first met K.C., he sported a “mohawk,” a modified version of the Billy Ray Cyrus “do.” Shorts, T-shirt, wire-rim frame glasses, big rings and tattoos—lots of them, done in his own tattoo parlor here in town. Long gone are the wing-tips and button-down shirts, long gone is any effort to “fit in,” to conform. He is his own man, inside and out. A devout Christian, he came by his faith through adversity, knowledge and acceptance. He has studied all other religions, respects the beliefs of others, even when they run counter to his own, and is comfortable with himself, his faith and the life he has lived.

Inner peace is elusive. Life in Baja, with its beauty and serenity, is an opportunity to find it, finally. I believe K.C. has.