An Infinite Faith

Struggling to support himself and his family, Don Uyaguari crafts guitars in his small town of San Bartolomé, Ecuador.

In the small mountain town of San Bartolomé sits a small wooden building. Layered between a small dirt road and a gorgeous valley, the building is half workshop, half home. The workshop belongs to Don Uyaguari, one of many guitar makers in southern Ecuador. The rest of the home is occupied by his family - his sons and daughters, their sons and daughters.

Photo: Luke Rafferty & Zach Lowry
Uyaguari works on a guitar in front of his workshop in San Bartolomé, Ecuador.

Uyaguari has been working with guitars since he was a small child, learning from his father in the same shop. While his father was self-taught, and not a traditional guitar maker, Uyaguari has made a living out of working with his hands and building these instruments.

“A mal tiempo, buena cara” – In bad times, a face held high.

Although Uyaguari has faced serious financial troubles and could face losing his home, he has been persistent, and makes whatever sacrifices are necessary to help his family survive. No matter what the situation, Don always presents himself with valor and good spirits, never letting disappointment show or defeat him.

He finds the strength to continue on with his craftsmanship through his ever-present faith. The idea of an ever-lasting faith provides a unity for all Ecuadorians — an intimate bond of hope.

Our story

This past October, my longtime friend and business partner, Zach Lowry, and I traveled to Ecuador to create a video on Uyaguari. The film serves to tell his story and highlight his guitars. Guitars allow him to use his hands, and craft with his soul, while also making an instrument others will use to make music — a language that transcends all boundaries of the world.

While his guitars are some of the best in the Andean region of Ecuador, he struggles to sell the guitars and support his family. The economy of Ecuador doesn't allow for the guitars to be sold for what they're truly worth. We stayed with Uyaguari for the weekend, and became familiar with him and his family. We were able to grow comfortable with them, and eventually able to tell Don's story properly.

Uyaguari has begun reaching out to the international community in recent months, and through his new company, Andean Guitars, he hopes to increase his sales, and earn a stronger income from his guitars.

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