During my recent trip to Peru, I constantly heard the word “Chappetex” on the streets and live TV. I was stunned. I believed ‘Chappetex’ had become an anachronism, being replaced by a fancier term. But the catchy name hasn’t yet lost its appeal. Moreover, on my evening strolls, I encountered a myriad of couples practicing the ‘Chappetex’ as naturally as a decade ago. Any tourist may consider it as the favorite Peruvian pastime.
The Peruvian ‘Chappetex’: What is It All About?
But what is ‘Chappetex’ exactly? In one sentence: a long and ardent french kiss. As a Peruvian, I grew up watching couples kissing each other. Watching passionate kisses may be striking for a foreigner. But not for a Peruvian. I was accustomed to it since childhood. I certainly didn’t grasp how ardent Peruvian kisses are until I moved to the US. In suburban America, people are somewhat conservative regarding kisses in public view.
I will never forget the astonishment of my American friend after his first trip to Peru. I had provided him a list of places to visit, dishes to eat, among other things. After his return, he let me know I had forgotten an essential thing. “Oh, my God! Why didn’t you tell me? People were kissing everywhere! In the market, on street corners, on public squares, in the parks, inside the bus, even at the restaurant! I almost felt guilty for not having a girlfriend!”, he said. I burst into laughter. Certainly, habit turns a blind eye to the most obvious facts. I didn’t realize this Peruvian peculiarity until my friend pointed it out.
The Origins of ‘Chappetex’: A Pretty Hilarious CommercialImage Source: Arkiv Peru
Certain company brands become ingrained in a nation’s consciousness. During the eighties, ‘Chappetex’, a business that produced wool and tennis shoes, was a popular brand. The company released a couple of TV spots in those years. Although the spots were considered “ridiculous”, they became a fond memory for many Peruvians. I don’t know who created that commercial, but the spot included a line with a slight sexual connotation. Chappetex promoted wool for arm knitting and the knitting needles (Palitos) had to be mentioned. In the spot, the actress is holding a pair of knitting needles saying: Métale el palito! (‘stick the needle inside!’ or simply ‘stick the needle!’).
Simultaneously, people had been using the slang word ‘Chape‘ to denote a french kiss. Since Peruvians adore twisting words, some started saying ‘Chappetex’ instead of ‘Chape’. So, when narrating their love adventures among friends, many said: ‘We gave each other a great Chappetex’ (Nos dimos un buen Chappetex). Here is the TV commercial.
After that, ‘Chappetex’ became an essential slang word.
Where do Peruvians Enjoy Doing the ‘Chappetex’?
Image Source: XpatNation
As my American friend said, Peruvians love doing it everywhere. It is more a matter of personal choice. During my adolescence, for example, my friends practiced the ‘Chappetex’ in public parks. The daring ritual of initiating a love affair also involved a park. With its privacy and silence, the park was the most suited site to confess our feelings. And girls knew it. If a guy invited a girl for a stroll to the park, she foresaw what was coming.Image Source: Risas sin mas
As the innocent teenagers we were, we kissed our girlfriends very softly. The older guys on the block pressured us to be more passionate with our girls, and use our tongues proactively. Whenever we told them we did the ‘Chappetex’, they interrupted us abruptly with a raised finger. They said,
Un momento, causa, ¿Chappetex con Lenguado o sin Lenguado?
Wait a minute, dude, Chappetex with tongue o without tongue?
After becoming experts with our tongues, we gained the respect of the gang.
El Parque del AmorImage Source: Artnaz
As long as there is love, most sites are ideal to try a French kiss. However, there is a famous park in Miraflores that many Peruvians prefer: El Parque del Amor. A gigantic sculpture “The Kiss” adorns this park, located on Cisneros Pier, right by the Pacific ocean. The sculpture “The Kiss” is the masterpiece of Peruvian artist Victor Delfin, and an inspiration for their visitors. On Valentine’s day, over a hundred couples visit this beautiful park and engage in a public display of love.
That’s another great thing about my beautiful Peru: If we see you and your loved one kissing passionately, most of us won’t mind. In fact, others will celebrate it: Chapa, chapa, no mas!
- Andres Ruzo, Peruvian by Birth, Texan by Choice, Entrepreneur For Life
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