here's the solution for this issue in order to make things easier for others -
it seems that Infinispan is having dificulties handing multiple nodes with transaction on/off.
this scenario involved 2 nodes, one using transactions, and the other without. this caused locking issues for infinispan.
this issue was solved when switching to multiple nodes, all working with transactions.
Just to reiterate the obvious thing, cache configurations need to be symmetric in all nodes in the cluster. IOW, if cache X is configured with X, Y, Z, it needs to configured in the same way in all nodes in the cluster.
We could enforce this on startup, verifying that all nodes' configurations are symmetric.
indeed thats a nice feature to have for a novice user like i was....