Crosses stand on El Tejar cemetery's potters field in Quito, Ecuador.
It's a chilly night in Ecuador's capital and the small group of men and women visiting the city's oldest cemetery are understandably nervous.
Led by guides in black hooded capes, they navigate a maze of crypts as voices call out existential questions into the night.
"What are you doing so that someone remembers you after you've died?" one asks. "What are you doing so that you're not forgotten?"
They're there to get a taste of death while still alive - spending part of the night in a dark crypt at the El Tejar cemetery, the latest example of the so-called "necro tourism" trend luring those with a keenness for the macabre.
"The idea is to make people reflect," says Alexandra Ortega, director of Quito Post Mortem, the company that arranges the graveyard tours. "In cemeteries, life and death can be found. Life is ephemeral and death the only certainty."
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"Death is very much present in the Latin American sensibility," said Peter Sanipatín, a psychologist in Ecuador.
"These activities allow us to confront an imaginary death and come out triumphant, at least for the moment."
In many cities across the globe, tourism groups have begun encouraging visitors to take a step toward the dark side as an opportunity to reflect on the past and the very nature of humanity.
"Imagining that situation helps us confront something that scares us," Nathan Digby, a philosophy and religion professor, said of the surge in cemetery tours.
The idea for Ecuador's nighttime cemetery visits arose as Ortega was investigating out of the box tour ideas for her tourism studies thesis. As a twist, she decided guests would be completely blindfolded and spend time lying inside a crypt.
"Doing it blindfolded intensifies the experience," she said.
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