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'Street smarts' are needed in Cairo. Five minutes into our Egypt trip a customs agent kept my passport without explanation and told me to wait by the customs booth. Then a smartly dressed man wearing a suit and official badge asked me many questions about my trip details. Eventually I realized he was selling a tour or hotel reservation. After explaining my plans were already set, the customs agent came around and gave back my passport. Then we made it past the touts and their countless offers for transport or accommodations, hailed a cab, and joined our tour group at the hotel. Our multinational group left Cairo and headed into the desert. We have an armed escort (in 1997 terrorists massacred an entire tourist group) for our journey to the Siwa Oasis, close to the Libyan border; a great neighborhood where Americans are very popular. On the way, we visited a Coptic monastery, an Egyptian Christian sect, and El Alamein, a WWII battlefield that the Brits claim was that war's turning point (every battle won by the Brits is a candidate for being a 'turning point').  Unbelievably, it actually rained as we drove through the desert. So far the Egyptian desert has been wet, windy, and chilly.
The Desert Rose Hotel, the only hotel for miles around (the closest one is in Siwa, 200 km away, and Siwa hotels aren't much more luxurious)