Jake Pfeiffer had no idea that Munduzer would impact his life so drastically.
He’s a busy entrepreneur. He wasn’t looking for anything more to take on when he was hanging out with some friends around a table enjoying a few beers and the conversation as usual. But soon, the topic changed to a proposed festival—Munduzer—that would feature music, arts, and adventure out in the Arizona wilderness.
“We decided to take it to the next level, to try to get a bunch of people there,” Jake said of the process.
Little did he know, a chance meeting at the festival would change his life.
Would it be difficult to get the goal number of people out to the festival? Absolutely.
The Desert Canvas leaders reached out to anyone and everyone who they thought might be interested in attending Munduzer.
“Fortuitously, Todd messaged the ASU Outdoors Club about it, and it just so happened that a group of study abroad students was checking up on that for some ideas of things to do, and they saw Munduzer and they liked it, so they joined the Facebook group,” Jake said.
When one of the girls posted a question to the group, Jake took a closer look at her picture.
“I totally just thought she was really cute,” he laughed.
Fast forward to Munduzer.
The sky was open, millions of stars lit up the night, and the city was far away. Nature was the perfect backdrop for a deeper kind of discussion.
“I was talking with my friends about big life questions, like existential kind of stuff, and we were just kind of philosophizing about the meaning of life, what is happiness, and that kind of stuff. And some of the study abroad group, the foreigners, came over and started in on the conversation.”
Guess who was in that group?
Jake didn’t know it at the time, but the cute girl from Facebook had ended up attending Munduzer. And even more of a coincidence, amidst all the people, she and her friends had stumbled upon his group.
“And then I saw her, and it was lights out, game over.”
Jake soon learned that she was from Turkey, that she was in town to study abroad, and that in Turkey, people don’t ponder big life questions like Jake and his friends were doing.
The two spent most of the night together, talking and sharing stories and teaching each other about their cultures.
“Sparks just kind of flew,” Jake remembered.
But in the morning, the second-guessing set in.
Jake had no idea how she felt about the night before. Combine this with his tendency to be shy when he first meets people, and he avoided the situation altogether. Finally, his new friend approached him and led him to the festival’s gathering area, where he opted to stand off to the side and just watch.
“It was super awkward and amazing and hilarious and just one of those moments you look back on and smile at,” he recalled. “We were just looking at each other, and I kissed her, and that was that.”
Jake asked her out via Facebook as soon as everyone got home from Munduzer. But one thing stood in their way.
She had to go back to Turkey when her study abroad program ended.
Did this stop them? Of course not.
Since last year, Jake has evolved into a well-traveled participant in multiple cultures. He has visited and fallen in love with Turkey, and their adventures together have included cruises and amazing other trips.
While apart, the two maintain their long-distance relationship through regular FaceTime dates, but they might not be long-distance for much longer if all goes as well as they hope. In the meantime, Jake is also learning Turkish.
Finding love wasn’t the only thing that changed, though.
Shy Jake from last year’s Munduzer is now more of a “yes” man.
“Munduzer was definitely a pivotal event where I became more opened up as a person,” he said, “just open to new experiences and ideas and a little bit more adventurous of a spirit.”
Sometimes all it takes is a weekend away from the everyday world to change your entire perspective on life because jumping headfirst into the unknown is both the scariest and best thing you can do.
Taking a chance on attending a festival and getting to know a stranger changed Jake’s life. And it can change yours, too.