Why Expat Partners are Quite Like Dung Beetles


There’s always a bit of a brouhaha when it comes to labelling or describing expat partners. A few of the titles used include Expat Spouse, Expat Wife, Trailing Spouse, Trailblazing Spouse, Lady of Leisure, Lady that Lunches, Guy that Golfs, Excess Baggage or as my husband endearingly calls me Expensive Habit. None of the terms is perfect and some are deeply loathed by the expat community.

So, I’ve come up with yet another alternative for you.  It’s an analogy that first occurred to me when I wrote about the industrious dung beetle after we saw hundreds of them on safari.  They are completely fascinating little creatures and the comparison between expat partners and dung beetles has been scratching about in the back of my mind ever since.  Yes, I am comparing the Trailing Spouse to the Dung Beetle.

Confused?  Here are 6 ways that expat partners are like dung beetles:

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bottle brush bloom South Africa

Awesome Blossom: Blooming Marvelous South African Blooms

Spring is in the air here in Jo’burg.  You can tell by the awesome blossom that is beginning to bloom. I’ve previously written about the phenomenal bird life in South Africa, but the annual techni-coloured flower show we are treated to is also stellar.

After two years in South Africa I can reliably identify Jacaranda, Bottlebrush, Red Hot Poker, Bird of Paradise and Agapanthus.

I’ve found photos of most of them, (one of the perks of walking the Cheese Thief is the fact that I have time to stop and notice these things).  For Jacaranda photos, check out this post where there are pictures of both purple and also white jacaranda blossoms in Johannesburg and Pretoria. The jacarandas warranted a separate post all to themselves and while writing it struck me that Jacarandas and expats actually have a few things in common.

Beautiful Mystery Tree

But what-oh-what is the flame topped beauty of a tree I saw yesterday?  Is it a flame tree, also known as a coral tree?  Please help.  It’s so pretty and I’m dying to know what it is.

Coral Tree also known as Lucky Bean Tree or the Latin name is Erythrina lysistemon

Easily Recognisable Blooms of South Africa

Bird of paradise flower, South Africa

Red Hot Poker

Red Hot Poker

Pretty Flower

Unidentified pretty flower. Help – what is it please?



The only way I could remember the name of the Agapanthus was by inventing a nemonic – Agatha’s Pants are Blooming Marvelous.  They are blooming marvellous aren’t they?

purple agapanthus flower

bottle brush bloom South Africa

Bottle Brush

It’s a bit of a chicken and the egg story with the bottle brush tree.  Did the shape of the blooms inspire the invention of the bottle brush and therefore invent a name for the tree?  Or…did the tree have some other name or no name and was renamed in modern times after the bottle brush was invented?  Who knows?  Do you know?

Which beautiful blooms are missing from this list? What else should I be looking out for when out and about in Johannesburg?