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.

I learned to speak conversational Spanish in six months using TV shows, movies, and even comics: I then wrote a book on how you can, too

I have a whole method and a book I wrote about it called The Telenovela Method where I teach you how to learn Spanish from popular media like TV shows, movies, music, books, etc. that you can all find online for free.  It was the #1 new release in the Spanish Language Instruction section on Amazon for nearly a month after it came out and currently has 17 reviews there with a 4.9/5 stars average.  It's available for $7.99-$9.99 for the e-book version depending on who you buy it from (Kindle version on Amazon is now $7.99) and $16.99 for the paperback (occasionally a bit cheaper, again, depending on who you buy it from).

It's currently available in both e-book and paperback from:

Cheers,
Andrew

I see you've been here a while (3 minutes, 30 seconds, to be precise)!

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Wonderful! Would you like more of the same? I can help you, Spanish students and teachers!

I have whole series of emails (many series!), lists of the most useful free online resources, and more to help beginning/intermediate Spanish students as well as Spanish teachers (a lot of that information is useful to both for different reasons).  If you'll subscribe to my email list right now I'll immediately send you my list of the Top 10 Free Online Spanish-Learning Resources as well as the first in my "Getting Started Learning Spanish" series, with much more to follow (e.g. my "Learn Spanish for Real" series where I teach idioms and slang from real-life contexts, "Learn Spanish from the News", "Learn Spanish on YouTube", and more!).

Thank you so much for giving me a chance and subscribing to my questionable writings, you'll receive your first two in the next few minutes - Andrew

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