It literally means “at the order” but translates to something more like “at your service”, it’s what servers in restaurants or people selling things on the street say to let you know they’re ready to receive your order.
I suspect this isn’t exclusive to Colombia but I don’t recall hearing it in Spain and it is very common here – I’m trying to give you guys colloquial Spanish that’s common here, that will prove useful to you if you visit, and that you probably wouldn’t have learned otherwise (textbooks, courses, Duolingo, etc.).
When I was in Cartagena I heard this all the time. There would be employees for every restaurant, bar, and cafe standing out in front of them with menus trying to entice people to come in, and they would frequently use this phrase to indicate they were open for business. The street vendors selling everything from straw hats to cigarettes and candy to beer would use this phrase with the same intention.
In Bogota and Medellin, thankfully, the vendors are nowhere near as aggressive (one of the reasons I didn’t like Cartagena, it’s very touristy), so this phrase is only heard once you’ve indicated you want to engage in some sort of business with someone, e.g. you’ve just sat down at a restaurant and a waiter hands you a menu and says “a la orden”, indicating that they’ll take your order whenever you’re ready (you will likely have to flag them down when you are ready, they don’t check on you occasionally like servers in the states do).
I hope that was interesting, let me know what you think in the comments (and would like me to write about in the future), also... If you thought the above was at all useful and you want to learn (or are learning) Spanish, please give me a chance and read what I have to say about my book below! Thank you so much for checking out my blog and I hope you've enjoyed my writing.
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