Great story, Mike!
A couple of things. I’m surprised this doesn’t have claps already. Were you curated? It’s a wonderfully written piece.
I wonder if your tags are hindering you? I would use- Friendship, Relationships, Life, Travel, and Expat.
I’m not sure if you use CoSchedule, but it helps with headlines. You’re looking for a score of at least 70. Curators look at your headlines when deciding on curation. You can write the best article in the world, but if your headline doesn’t hit the high notes, they’ll deny it.
I hope I’m not overstepping, I was just really surprised not to see more engagement on such an awesome piece!
Oh, and the photos without attribution, I presume those are your personal photos? You still need to attribute them, click under them once you upload and type something like “from the author’s personal collection” or “photo by author” so no one thinks you’re using photos without permission. That makes a difference to curators as well.
Hope this helps!